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Disclaimers first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But libertarianism is not anarchy. There are stringent rules.

Just not very many.

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( 40 comments — Leave a comment )
11th Jul, 2009 05:52 (UTC)
"Sticks and stones, prison. Words, no real harm. Like the old days when the British were real people rather than the professionally offended infants they have been made to be now."

I like that idea. I like it very much.

JuliaM (http://thylacosmilus.blogspot.com/)
11th Jul, 2009 07:20 (UTC)
Well, here's one Libertarian you agree with.

Beautifully put.
(no subject) - leg_iron - 13th Jul, 2009 01:40 (UTC) - Expand
11th Jul, 2009 07:40 (UTC)
OH here

I sold my boat to some bloke a few weeks ago. As it was hauled out of the marina, I noticed that the wheel on the trailer looked a bit dodgy. I pointed this out to the buyer, who had driven 200 miles to pay cash and was he really sure he wanted to hurtle down the M3 with it?

Sure enough, en email that evening.

Just after we left you, the wheel fell off the trailer and we paid £580 to be recovered all the way home. We want compensation

He had no recovery insurance, the vehicle wasn't insured to tow, he didn't contact me to get it fixed locally (£12 for a wheel bearing) and yet he wanted me to pay £580 for his bad decisions with MY money AND he had legal insurance so he could sue me. It was all MY fault.

I told him to fuck off.
11th Jul, 2009 09:31 (UTC)
If he persists do make sure he has taken his trailer test. Old licences allow the holder to tow but new ones don't. If he was towing that trailer without the rellevent training or documentation he is not just a dickhead but breaking one of the few UK laws that make sense.
(no subject) - leg_iron - 13th Jul, 2009 01:42 (UTC) - Expand
11th Jul, 2009 08:22 (UTC)
Rab C. here,

Leg Iron, you hit the nail on the head!

OH, serves the twat right. What a moron.
11th Jul, 2009 09:41 (UTC)

My son, aged 10, got into a playground scrap with another 10 year old over a disputed goal in football. Both boys were sent home from school to cool off.

The other boy's parents pressed assault charges with the police who had no choice but to come round and do a formal Reprimand. In turn they have had to report the matter to Social Services who now want to visit to offer 'support'. They can fuck off.

I despair
13th Jul, 2009 01:44 (UTC)
We had school scraps all the time. They were dealt with by the headmaster who looked enough like Christopher Lee's Dracula that we just went 'Oh, okay' and shut up.

Our parents were never inforned unless it got out of hand and someone was bleeding.

It made sense.
11th Jul, 2009 09:46 (UTC)
"There is no racism or xenophobia."

Yes there is. There always will be and it should not be illegal. What happens is that there are strict limits in how far people are allowed to express their feelings.

Preferring to drink with white or black people and whine to each other about damn immigrants / honkies, not a problem. Start kicking people's heads in - prison. Although just the same amount of prison as if you were being a violent pillock because they supported the wrong football club, 'dissed' you or just looked at you the wrong way. Because the crime is the action, not the motivation.

Note for pedants - motivation might be mitigation or aggravation (battered spouse or taking potshots at ambulance drivers), however the crime is the same.
13th Jul, 2009 01:54 (UTC)
Re: ??
Ah, I meant to say there is no racism or xenophobia in the Libertarian way of doing things. There will always be both in the general population, and trying to stop it is like trying to tell wasps that jam jars are poison.

The dislike of others should not be a crime. Smashing someone's windows or setting fire to their house for no other reason than you don't like them, that's a crime. As is encouraging others who then do those things.

As it is, if I say to another honky who's a twat 'I don't like you', it's not a problem. If I say it to a black man for exactly the same reasons, suddenly it's race hate. No it isn't. Some people I like, some I don't. A twat is a twat, no matter what their skin looks like.

That's not equality. It's not even fair because of a back man thinks I'm a twat and says so, that isn't a race crime.

The BNP play on that and Labour help them every step of the way. Libertarians would not. The 'Sir, sir, he called me a bad name' crime would vanish.

The 'He burned my house and I've done nothing to him' crime would remain, and would be punished. With malice aforethought, if I had my way. And spikes. Long, sharp ones with vipers on the end.

Skin colour and foreign-ness will always be an aspect of everyone's thinking, all over the world. It would not be an aspect of Libertarian law.
Re: ?? - leg_iron - 13th Jul, 2009 01:55 (UTC) - Expand
11th Jul, 2009 09:57 (UTC)
Alistair Crowley whilst channeling the spirit Thoth claimed there was now just one comandment. Do As Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law. It is easy to read this in relation only to ones self and interpret it as meaning one may do as one pleases without concern for anyone else. But it doesn't mean that. It means that everything you do should be done with consideration for how it affects everyone else's right to do as they wish. Rape, murder, anexing of other people's land and partying all night next door to a cancer hospital would still be unacceptable under this law but so would be arbitary taxation and prohibition, the two thing we should really have grown out of by now as a society.
And fuck immigration. Why not try total country swapping? Pakistan is a nice place but the pakis are all misserable as fuck so why not swap with them. They can be misserable as fuck here. We've got the weather for it. Pakis live ten to a room and are no less misserable than thier own ruling classes so the downsizing won't be a problem. Meanwhile we can have a tropical switzerland next door to India, who's 100,000,000 strong unemployed underclass will happily serve us like the Gods we are and who's remaining population will love us for removing said underclass and afformentioned pakis. If I come to power, these are the whims your soldiers will be sent off to fight (but hopefully not die) for.
Balding Nobhead
11th Jul, 2009 11:17 (UTC)
"Alistair Crowley whilst channeling the spirit Thoth claimed there was now just one comandment. Do As Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law. "

Better to take the Wiccan creed as your byword, though: "An' it harm none, do what thou wilt..". It spells it out a little more explicitly than old Al.

JuliaM (http://thylacosmilus.blogspot.com/)
(no subject) - leg_iron - 13th Jul, 2009 02:11 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - 13th Jul, 2009 09:11 (UTC) - Expand
11th Jul, 2009 10:03 (UTC)
Libertarianism terrifies both the domesticated and those who would domesticate them.
11th Jul, 2009 13:10 (UTC)

I agree with every single word. Inspired by this, (shameless plug alert!) I created my own blog entry here:

11th Jul, 2009 14:14 (UTC)
Leg-Iron; a tonic. Now if only they could decant him into bottles...
Top stuff Leggy. One of the best plain English explanations of libertarianism I've ever read. Somewhere up there George Orwell is smiling.

I'll be saving this and circulating it to some interested friends if that's ok with you.
13th Jul, 2009 02:13 (UTC)
Re: Leg-Iron; a tonic. Now if only they could decant him into bottles...
Most of me came out of bottles, so putting me back wouldn't be too hard. You'd have to be over 25 to buy me in a supermarket though.

Reproduce it anywhere. As far as I'm concerned, if it's on this blog it's public domain. Free to all.
11th Jul, 2009 16:54 (UTC)
You can do pretty much what you please but you must accept responsibility for your actions.

Got it in one, join the LPUK, try Liberty instead.
11th Jul, 2009 18:22 (UTC)
Wild applause
Sums it up briliantly. Duly passed round e-mail-stylee.
11th Jul, 2009 23:16 (UTC)
I'm worried....I find myself agreeing to most of this perspective and finding it complimenting with my own beliefs on how society should be allowed to exist.

Oh god am I becoming a Libertarian???
13th Jul, 2009 02:27 (UTC)
You probably already are, but didn't have a place to go before.

Just like me.
12th Jul, 2009 08:05 (UTC)
There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch was really a Heinleinian dictum (from The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, which should be as much a founding text of the Libertarian canon as Atlas Shrugged). In a more formal setting, it is one of the Two Things that everyone needs to know about economics (namely: opportunity cost, the other being: incentives matter).
13th Jul, 2009 02:30 (UTC)
I read a later Heinlein book about this, can't remember the name. The entire society was built on 'is it of value to you? Then it's of value to me'.

That society seemed to work out pretty well. Of course, the new guy got shafted until he figured out the rules, but that's life.

At least the rules were constant.
12th Jul, 2009 17:07 (UTC)
Spot on
...if you ask me.
13th Jul, 2009 15:32 (UTC)
Libertarian is not libertine
This is Stan, again.

I left another comment on your other post, but as you've posted this I'll make the same point here. First of all, I'm obviously not very good at getting my point across because nobody seems to get it.

My point being - how do you prevent libertarianism descending into libertinism. Please note - I am not saying that libertarian is the same as libertine - it isn't and I understand the difference, but that does not explain how you prevent people from doing what they want EVEN if it does cause some "harm" to somebody else.

The main point here is that for the person to face the consequences of their action, they have to be caught out. You used the example of people getting as drunk as they like - OK, fair enough, but suppose someone gets as drunk as they like and vomits in a shop doorway? Is that wrong? It's not good for the shop owner or his customers, but no "harm" has been done.

If it is wrong - how do you catch the perp if no one saw him/her do it? On a more extreme note, suppose someone gets drunk and then mows down a pedestrian while driving home - but once more there are no witnessed and the perp doesn't own up. What then?

The only thing a state can do is to watch, track and monitor everything that everyone does - in other words, more and more surveillance or, as I keep saying - in the absence of an omnipresent God, the ONLY alternative is an omnipresent state.

It doesn't matter whether the government is libertarian or communist or whether we have 10 laws or 10 billion laws. The only way to make people face the consequences of their actions is to catch and prosecute them - and if you can not do that you are up the creek without a paddle.

My point regarding Christianity is that people believed that they would always be made to face the consequences - if not by earthly law then by God. There was no getting away from it. That was the main reason why people generally did not commit crime to the extent they do now and it is the foundation stone of the concept of "the rule of law".

That principle was dismantled from the sixties onwards and nothing was brought in to replace it. I've no objection to something other than Christianity being the foundation of the concept of "the rule of law" - but you can't have nothing at all. The progressive answer - belatedly being imposed - is an omnipresent state and under a libertarian government that process would continue. What alternative is there? A blind hope that people will stop committing "crimes" even though they know they are unlikely to be caught or punished for them? If you believe that then I admire your faith in humankind, but I fear it is misplaced.
13th Jul, 2009 22:17 (UTC)
Re: Libertarian is not libertine
I think I see what you're getting at. Once a society is set up on Libertarian lines, how do you prevent it from sliding into anarchy?

Well, there's still law. There are still police. There are still penalties for breaking the law. The difference is that the laws are few, simple, and easy to understand and follow.

There are now, always have been and always will be those who refuse to accept that the law applies to them. Those people will not care about harming others and some of them will set out with the intention of harming others, and it doesn't matter what form of government you have or how much you watch and control. Those people don't care about any of it. They are going to do it anyway.

The only way to deal with them is to lock them up but as you say, first you have to catch them. It's a problem for every form of society, because these people don't care about the others around them and it makes no difference if they live under communism, fascism, democracy, libertarianism, anarchy, dictatorship or a country dedicated to the worship of eels. Libertarianism won't make those people worse. It probably won't affect their behaviour in the slightest. Nothing else ever has.

Even religious societies have these people. Iran has people making home-made booze from industrial ethanol and making people very sick indeed. In Iran, those caught with alcohol can be fined and flogged. Pretty severe, but it doesn't stop them.

The Catholic church has recently been embroiled in a scandal about priests diddling with the choirboys. If priests aren't scared of divine retribution, why would their congregation be?

The answer of course is that they weren't real priests. They were child molesters who took holy orders in order to have access to choirboys. They weren't scared of God, they thought only of themselves. Yes, there are tests, but a sociopathic mind can pass most such tests with ease.

There are and always will be some people that no form of state or religious control will be able to hold back. All we can do is find them and lock them away. Some people are just plain evil.

Even so, I can't see the wisdom in things like this:


"At the same time the capacity of the police is to be augmented by a further four regional asset recovery teams to complete the network across England and Wales. Each will have tax inspector attached and the Home Office is to extend the legal power to "reverse the burden of proof" in civil recovery cases to make it easier to seize assets of those in organised crime."

So they can take all your money and 'you' have to prove that you are 'not' a criminal in order to get it back. Meanwhile, your business goes down the tubes, your mortgage goes unpaid, electricity and gas get cut off so even when you get through the process and prove your innocence, you are homeless. The money you recover goes to pay the lawyers you needed to keep you out of jail.

It's the logical progression of State control. In this case, the State does not have to prove guilt. Every one of us has to prove their innocence, and eventually we'll have to do it all the time.

(continued because I went over the limit)
Re: Libertarian is not libertine - leg_iron - 13th Jul, 2009 22:18 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Libertarian is not libertine - leg_iron - 13th Jul, 2009 22:23 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Libertarian is not libertine - (Anonymous) - 14th Jul, 2009 08:43 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Libertarian is not libertine - (Anonymous) - 14th Jul, 2009 10:00 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Libertarian is not libertine - (Anonymous) - 14th Jul, 2009 23:37 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Libertarian is not libertine - leg_iron - 15th Jul, 2009 00:35 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Libertarian is not libertine - leg_iron - 15th Jul, 2009 00:35 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Libertarian is not libertine - (Anonymous) - 16th Jul, 2009 12:26 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Libertarian is not libertine - (Anonymous) - 15th Jul, 2009 11:03 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Libertarian is not libertine - (Anonymous) - 15th Jul, 2009 11:07 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Libertarian is not libertine - (Anonymous) - 16th Jul, 2009 12:28 (UTC) - Expand
( 40 comments — Leave a comment )