Libertarian Alliance Christmas Message 2010

What is liberty for, and why should people be free?

David Davis

Merry Christmas, ladies and gentlemen. May God rest you merry, and perhaps tight this year. Get tight while you can still afford it – for governments, specially this one, would like to think they can “combat drinking” by over-taxation, freely and cheerfully admitted to.

Well, this year, among other things, the awful and totally-unelected Gordon Brown zeppelin-thing-in-the-ether, foisted on us by Tony Blair and possibly his worst single act, imploded finally. We voted, and guess what? Nobody won, and the Government got in, again. This may be a good thing in the short term, in that the coalition can’t actually do anything to hinder people much more, let alone help. But strategically in the battle for universal individual freedom, we here are certainly no better off than before.

In fact, a little worse, for some of us like me and Sean see the Clock ticking…. We know that however relatively more slowly than before we are being marched to the living-gas-chambers of sustainable socialist greenery, and to the concentration-camps of more intricate and closer repression, the available decades of living people’s lifetimes in which they might do something to reverse The Big Modern Managerial State, are slipping away like sand in a glass. Time, literally, is running out for liberty in the UK for sure, and so it would seem also for other Anglosphere nations. I gather that you can get fined for speeding in Australia, if you are tracked by a police helicopter…I thought helicopters were foreign-policy-war-winning-weapons, for machine-gunning GramscoStaliNazi “freedom-fighters”, until I researched Australian Policing.

So, what’s wrong with liberty? Why exactly are we under assault? And given the seeming consensus ranged against individual freedom, not only among the governing Enemy-Classes of the world, but also among populations who you think should know better, what is the point of freedom? Why should people be free?

If slavery seems to make so many people happy, why should bother to resist? Why continue to accept the nonplussed opinions of our contemporaries? Why bother any more to bear their frank uncomprehension at our persistent criticism of statist ideas and outcomes? Why should we endure the perpetual status of outsiders and deranged wierdos?

We do have the comfort of course, of knowing that everyone else is mistaken. We know we are right: we also know there is objective truth, about why liberty is good, and all the alternatives are evil.

But, why is it that in the presence of large measures of individual liberty, Men seem to advance and the nett sum of human comfort – not to mention the absolute amounts of energy able to be deployed – go up? Along with life-expectancy, freedom from hunger and want for more people than before, and the like? And that the converse is true: tyrannies actually produce cars, such as the Trabant, whose specification actually _declined_ as the years went on?

The world must thus divide between those who think as we do, and those who think that progress is a zero-sum-game. We know that market-based co-operation of Men produces absolutely more wealth, able to be spread by trading and money. To do this fairly, money must be “sound”, which is to say: unable to be corrupted and debased by outsiders and agencies (such as monopoly government issuers, which see a way to “have more” to spend, on “projects” or on themselves.) We also know that we think the Enemy-Class knows that for one man to succeed, many must fail. That’s why they have abolished failure in education, schools, and increasingly, non-Olympic Sport. (They like the medals, you see, “for the People”….)

What’s wrong with liberty, as seen by our Enemy-Classes the world over, is exactly that it makes Enemy-Classes redundant. There can be no purpose in such a Class, so long as individuals can sink or swim by their own efforts and forge, or fail to forge, their own destinies, by their own considered efforts and also while happy to accept the outcomes as they fall. Furthermore, many of the Enemy-Class are against what they call “religion”. Specifically this means Judeo-Christianity, for they do not seem to be against other ones although I bet you 5p this will change, before too long, say about 5-15 years. And they’re only “against the Jews” because the “Palestinians” being exotic and phantasmal have captured the imagination of those that shape public perceptions, and also because the Holocaust has now almost faded from living memory, and Europe is returning to its traditional 16-century-old let-out of Jew-hating.

I give British Muslims until about 2025 before they suddenly find themselves physically inside real enclosures looking out, rather than outside the hegemonic-discourse-enclosure looking in. And it won’t be liberals and libertarians who put them there, it will be their erstwhile friends in the Political Enemy-Class, and they will cry “foul!” and there will be nobody left to speak for them.

As for Christmas? I always like to make the point that Liberty is not the daughter of order but its mother. For those libertarians who believe there is a God, well that’s fine, and I just remind the others that He gave Man free will, as a gift. OK, OK. We all know the concept evolved along with an ever-increasingly-ramified brain and the ability to comprehend self-hood, accumulate Memory, and use Learning, in the fulfilment of the brain’s biological brief, which is to “do what you think best in the next seconds of time, all the time, to keep us other cells alive, using what you know”.

As in 1.John i:- In the beginning was Order. Order was God, (which means God exemplified Order), and Order was “with” (which is to say “by” or “created by”) God. In other words, Order pre-existed everything observable in the Universe, which of course makes perfect sense to any good scientist. (The “science” is settled! Ha ha…) Now, we say that Liberty is Order’s mother, which is logical in a political sense and is always and everywhere shown to be true in history. This makes liberty the greatest of all gifts. So, all Men should be free, for in that state a civilisation founded on Order, freely arrived at, not needing “police”, or “cameras” or DNA datatbases, or other such low stuff, can arise.




  • Well said – very well said indeed.

  • Andrew Withers (LPUK)

    And a Happy Christmas to to the LA from the LPUK, may the political classes not spend their holidays dreaming up new intiatives.

  • Merry Christmas David and Sean, and everyone else at the LA, and on the blog, and commenters, and Libertarians everywhere!

    Why should people be free? I said over at Samizdata recently, you can’t prove they should be. You can derive something akin to the non-aggression principle from Hume’s Is Ought Problem, but beyond that there isn’t a “should”.

    I think wanting to be free is enough. Everyone wants to be free. It’s just that most people don’t want everybody else to be free, and that’s the hard thing we have to change.

    How long will humanity survive? The future is without limit[1] and I believe that at some point mankind will be free. Just, not yet, sadly. I fear we may be like dissenters from Catholicism in the 10th century. Just too early. But we’ll win in the end, because we are right.

    It may be that history is like a Star Trek episode. You have to try every idea that doesn’t work before finally trying the one that does. The tyranny now dominant is not the most brutal or nasty in that sense, but is perhaps the most pernicious, which is why it has survived until last. It may be though the last totalitarianism to defeat. We may, if we live to be very elderly, even see its end.

    But whatever history has in store for us, we should warm our hearts this Christmas with the thought that one day our descendants will live a life of freedom and nigh-utopian bliss. That’s something to raise a glass to[2], I think. For now, we must keep buggering on.

    As I said, merry christmas all!

    [1] The heat death of the universe being too distant to worry about right now.

    [2] While the hard stuff is still legal.

  • IanB, thank you for your kind words and encouragement. And it’s to be hoped fervently that you’re right about this perhaps being the last totalitarianism we have to defeat. I’m not optimistic that we shall live to see it in our lifetimes, for I’m too old now.

    In a way it does today’s liberals and libertarians honour, if you are right. It’s an Anglo-Saxon thing I guess, to hope for the Human Race to be able to stand the assault of The Last Enemy of its individual liberty, and perhaps the greatest. From Beowulf, through Hastings and Crecy and Agincourt (chickenfeed these last two!) and 1940 (no chickenfeed then – we were really alone – scary business it was) I’d be happy going down like that, if I was forced to (but I do hope to die free, in my bed!)

    I wanted to cheer people up, but I don’t think I’ve managed that!

  • “I think wanting to be free is enough. Everyone wants to be free. It’s just that most people don’t want everybody else to be free, and that’s the hard thing we have to change.”

    Ian, I think you’ve hit the nail firmly on the head. Why is it that “powerful” people always seem to find ways of oppressing others, even if that is (possibly) not their intention? Solve that, and I think we’ve cracked it!

  • A very Merry Christmas to you all, much Yuletide joy and a Happy New Year to you all.

    Best Wishes,


  • I suggest most people operate by satisficing, that is they stop wanting beyond a certain level of comfort, and are only motivated to do something if they are driven by circumstance below their minimum level of comfort.

    Latterly the heady mix of advancing technology coupled with cheap energy, especially in the form of oil, has allowed a level of comfort way above most people’s expectations. This has allowed government to tax people to excess, and finance a level of government expansion way beyond what is good for a society. Government has so much money it does not know what to do with it. Large corporations have grown up expressly to help governments dispose of the wealth they have taken from (almost) willing taxpayers.

    Things will change when the current levels of comfort, which are unsustainable in the long run, fall. The driver will be the post-peak decline of oil production – at a plateau since mid-2004 – and subsequent increase in energy prices. I have long suspected the global warming scam and obsession with curbing carbon dioxide emissions is a proxy for curbing oil and other fossil fuel consumption. A future of declining wealth after such a long period of growth will not sit well with people used to easy living.

    The main constraint on war in Europe has been prosperity. When that ends, as is likely following the decline in oil production (absent a viable alternative, which seems likely in the medium term), many millions of people are going to get very angry and that anger may lead to bloodshed. War by 2018?

    Just thought I’d cheer you up a little…


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