“I’m a Libertarian”

Neil Lock

Yesterday evening, in my local Wetherspoon, I heard the words: “I’m a libertarian.”

I had never heard these three words, together and in this order, in any sentence uttered before inside the UK but outside the National Liberal Club.

The stranger who uttered these words (loudly), perhaps half my age, was with two other people. One, clearly older, was fulminating against everything he said. He wasn’t making too much impression on the third party, either.

At the time, I was consuming a roast turkey dinner. Probably a mistake; for I have suffered the trots all day today since about 4am. But as soon as the gentleman went outside for a smoke break, I engaged him in conversation and told him who (well, what) I was. I asked a background question, and got an answer which included the words “Hayek” and “Rothbard.” He was genuine!

His name is Jake, and he’s a partner – it would appear from their website, the juniormost – in an “advisory stockbroker,” whose offices are in the very same High Street as the Wetherspoon. He also, some time ago, studied philosophy at King’s College London. He was enjoying (?) an early evening out with his father and sister. We didn’t talk in any detail, but we exchanged business cards.

Now, who’ll say again that we libertarians haven’t had any effect?


6 thoughts on ““I’m a Libertarian”

    • You might also enjoy the following verse, which I added to that song:

      Our friend John Locke liked to drink his hock
      By the pint; it made him randy,
      While young Tom Paine preferred to addle his brain
      With gallons of best brandy.
      Adam Smith put orange pith
      In his gin to make it pink;
      And the great Ayn Rand said, raising her hand,
      “I am, therefore I’ll drink!”

  1. You exchanged business cards…..

    A nice example of that “Polite and Commercial People” as an historian described this aspect of British life in the 18th century. Not just this particularly example of it – but generally.

    As a student of Hayek and Rothbard the gentleman will be aware that the present stock market (and property market) is a terrible bubble – hopefully he is warning his clients of this.

    Philosophically a libertarian is someone who believes that people are persons – that we have the capacity (with effort) to do other than we do, to make real choices (agency), to choose moral right even when we desire to do evil. Hayek would have had trouble with all that (indeed J.S. Mill might have had trouble with all that), but Rothbard would have understood – I have terrible problems with history as presented by the late Murray Rothbard, but his basic philosophy was sound.

    Politically a libertarian is someone who does not violently object to other people (or private bodies corporate, such as Churches) having more income and wealth than he or she does – does not rob them, or get the state to rob them, of their land or other property.

  2. I have no reason to believe that Mr Lock is lying Mr Doolittle – he did not say that libertarian ideas were about to sweep the world, he said he bumped into a person who turned out to be another libertarian.

    Not the day to rain or Mr Lock’s parade.

    It was a nice experience for him – and he was kind enough to share it with us.

  3. One swallow doesn’t make a summer. 🙂

    The issue isn’t really how many people identify with an ideology, these numbers are always low. It’s how much the general population share the values of that ideology and will implement and vote for them; and that sadly is where Libertarianism has done very poorly.

    It’s not enough to have a good theory. Turning it into actions and results is what matters, as the enemies of liberty understand only too well. Today, by the way, is the day that cigarettes go by law into state-mandated cupboards in shops. This is not a nation of increasing liberalism, any way you look at it.

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