How to Fight for Liberty, Part Five – Conservatism

How to Fight for Liberty, Part Five – Conservatism

By Duncan Whitmore

In Part Four of this continuing series of Fighting for Liberty, we explored the nature of radicalism and its value for the fight for freedom. In this part, we will do the same for conservatism before concluding with some final remarks on reconciling conservatism with radicalism as part of a libertarian political strategy.

While a precise definition of conservatism is debatable, it seems reasonable enough to summarise it as a preference for traditional customs, conventions, cultures, and morality in addition to the institutions which uphold them. Contrary to the popular view of conservatism as rigid and uncompromising, it is not averse to change; the dedicated conservative is not trying to trap humanity in a time warp. He does, however, recognise that existing institutions – standing on the shoulders of centuries of human experience – must provide the starting point for any prospective change. In the words of Edward Feser, paraphrasing J L Austen: “[T]hough tradition […] might not always give us the last word, it must always give us the first word.”1 As such, change is likely to be relatively slow and undertaken within an evolutionary “arc of continuity”, with each new building block placed carefully upon one underneath instead of demolishing the entire foundation in revolutionary fervour. Another, more explicitly pro-freedom way of describing it, is a preference for “spontaneous” or “organic” order generated gradually by millions of individuals as opposed to consciously engineered order from the centre.

In the last part, we noted that libertarians – in contrast to Marxists and social engineers – simply do not have the option of demolition, of wiping the societal slate clean before merely “hoping” that liberty will prevail as the dust settles. Thus, adherence to conservatism in the manner described may assist the libertarian movement in two ways:

  • It can help to nourish the non-state institutions that would be necessary to support social co-operation in the absence of the state, sensitising us to the level of cultural diversity that a given society can sustain;
  • Given that liberty has flourished in the Western world more extensively than in any other, we should look to the specific cultural and institutional history of the West to determine why this is so.2

To at least some extent, therefore, we can see that libertarians need to adopt conservative attitudes.

However, it is abundantly clear that any efforts of modern conservatism to preserve freedom have been an abysmal failure, and if such conservatives today identify with freedom at all then it is either residual or in name only. In the UK, for instance, we are saddled with a governing Conservative Party that has not only implemented the greatest peacetime power grab in history as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns, but is seemingly committed to vast state spending, the rampant greening of the economy, and the authoritarian policing of speech and censorship. While, therefore, such conservatism cannot be our model, it is useful to understand how it arrived at where it is so that libertarians can avoid its pitfalls if they are to adopt conservative attitudes as part of their strategy.

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Us and Them

By Neil Lock

This is the final essay of six in in a re-appraisal and re-working of my philosophical system. I am calling the new version of this system “Honest Common Sense 2.0.”

Today, it’s time (at last!) to offer some thoughts on how we might seek to move from where we are today towards a better world. Some of these ideas, I’ll warn in advance, may seem radical to many people. To some, even scary.

I’m going to try to make this essay as stand-alone as I can; so that even those who haven’t read the preceding five parts should be able to appreciate my points of view. To that end, I’ll begin with some brief summaries culled from the earlier essays.

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The three ids: Sajid, Javid and COVID

This is the funniest thing that has happened in politics in my lifetime! (Quite probably, the first funny thing in politics in my lifetime). I called in to my local Co-op this morning, saw in the newspaper rack the headline about recently appointed health secretary Sajid Javid catching the COVID virus, and couldn’t stop laughing! When I got home and looked up some more, my laughs became belly-laughs.

Sky News tells us that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, as recent contacts of Javid, were phoned directly by NHS people, not pinged by the app. And that “legally” requires them to self-isolate for 10 days! Heh heh heh. Boot. Foot. Other. Hoist. Petard. Own.

I do hope that this will lead to a proper debate on what “the rule of law” is. In my view, it means that the rules we are expected to follow must be the same for everyone, with no exceptions – even for government. But I’m not holding my breath yet. The media are so corrupt that they are still with the establishment. As witness the “on-line safety bill,” intended to silence people who oppose the establishment, that makes exceptions for those “qualified” as “journalists.”

If I compare politics to a game of chess, Javid is a genius player. With one move, he has neutralized both the current incumbent and his main rival for the Tory party leadership. And he hasn’t been in his place long enough to be held responsible for the situation. Gove is already compromised by his recent trip to Portugal. When the Tory rank and file get restive this winter after lockdowns are re-imposed, who will they turn to? David Davis? Steve Baker? Or Javid? I can’t think of any other candidates.

For the avoidance of doubt, I do wish Sajid Javid a speedy and complete recovery from the coronavirus.

Review: “Say No to Racism: Tips and Advice on How to be Anti-Racist” by Rasha Barrage

Review: Say No to Racism: Tips and Advice on How to be Anti-Racist by Rasha Barrage1

By Duncan Whitmore

Note: Unless specified otherwise, numbers in parentheses refer to page numbers of the reviewed text.

Libertarians are likely to groan at the title of this short book by Rasha Barrage. Surely, we can surmise, this will just be the product of another race baiting shill reminding us of the uniquely evil and oppressive nature of predominantly white, Western civilisation? However, Say No to Racism (SNR) should not be dismissed quite so lightly; for although this reviewer cannot agree with the conceptual framework with which Barrage approaches questions of racism, her intellectual integrity together with her general approach towards achieving the resolution of a social problem is something from which all of those who seek social and political change (including libertarians) could learn a thing or two.

For one thing, the author is sincere in her attempt to achieve reconciliation resulting in peaceful co-existence and social harmony. In contrast to those whose aim is to exploit, rather than to resolve, alleged racial injustice, Barrage is not interested in stirring up hatred and antagonism, nor is there any hidden, cultural leftist agenda.

Bolstering this is the fact that the book puts some of its own advice (72, 102) into practice directly through Barrage’s exclusion of both herself and her own experiences from her message, nor does she make any attempt to establish her own credentials as an activist. This is not unimportant because ‘fashionable’ social justice causes today seem to be something of a lucrative cottage industry in which thinkers can be paid multi-thousand dollar speaking fees, elevated to professorial fellowships at Cambridge, or attract the ear of large corporations – a far cry from a life of persecution, ostracism, isolation, bouts of imprisonment, or (at worst) assassination endured by, say, Martin Luther King Jr or Nelson Mandela. Not only does this circumstance undermine directly the narrative of under-privilege and injustice, but there is an obvious conflict of interest if continuing activism is needed to sustain one’s livelihood or status. By avoiding this, one can be confident that Barrage’s thoughts are firmly centred on ideas which she has considered rationally and, thus, deserve to be taken at their word. Moreover, although, as the title suggests, the book is a brief ‘digest’ intended for a lay audience rather than an academic shelf-bender, the author is clearly well informed on the theories that she summarises, and so I trust it is not out of place to scrutinise them at this higher level.

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The “We” Dimensions

By Neil Lock

This is the fifth essay in a six-part re-formulation of my philosophical ideas. It covers, at a similar level to the previous essay, the fourth and fifth dimensions in my system, which in classical philosophy correspond to Politics, and to Economics and Aesthetics, respectively. I call these two the “We” dimensions. For the questions, which must be answered in these dimensions, are phrased in the first person plural. “How should we organize ourselves for maximum benefit to all?” And “What are we here to do?”

Today, I’ll be looking to outline a new system of governance, to supersede the states and bad politics under which we all suffer today. I call it “just governance.” I will deliberately try not to map things out in too much Utopian detail. For I expect just governance to evolve organically, getting better as it goes. So, what I will try to do is merely lay down some guidelines, and give a flavour of how the system might work. This is also, I think, a good moment at which to issue a plea for feedback on my ideas; particularly from those who share my pro-freedom views, but have different expertises.

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The “I” Dimensions

By Neil Lock

This is the fourth part of a six-part re-formulation of my philosophical system. In this essay and the next, I aim to put a little more “flesh” on the five dimensions of my system.

Today, I’ll cover the first three dimensions, corresponding to Metaphysics, Epistemology and Ethics respectively in classical philosophy. I call these three the “I” dimensions. For the questions about humanity, which must be answered in these dimensions, are phrased in the first person singular. “What am I?” “How do I know what I know?” And “How should I behave?”

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The Ultimate Covid Conspiracy?

The Ultimate Covid Conspiracy?
Sean Gabb
(29th June 2021)

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We have, for the past eighteen months, lived through a fantasy pandemic. If unpleasant, the Virus is not particularly deadly. The number of cases is a product of testing, the number of deaths a statistical fraud. We have had much worse infections in living memory. We never responded to those by locking down whole populations and making hysterical fear an object of state policy. What is happening?

The most likely answer is stupidity. The quality of the people who rule Britain and America has dropped through the floor since about 1990, and it was not that high then. Sadly, though, the rest of the world still believes Britain and America are the pinnacle of civilisation, and so, whatever madness is decided in London and Washington is copied without question almost everywhere else. Take stupidity, add short-term advantage to the usual suspects in politics and business, and we have the Coronavirus Panic.

But arguments from stupidity are boring. They are the equivalent of denying the existence of ghosts and second sight – worthy and true, but unentertaining. Much better is to begin from the assumption that the idiots in charge are not really in charge, but are only front men for the supremely intelligent and supremely effective and supremely wicked Ones-on-High. Do this, and explaining the panic becomes an argument over which conspiracy theory best fits the observed facts.

Until a few weeks ago, my favourite was that the Virus was a bioweapon that had somehow leaked from a Chinese laboratory. It was spotted by the main governments, because they were all working in secret on something similar. This would explain the initial panic. As for the piffling number of deaths, bioweapons are still at the experimental stage, and no one realised until it was too late that modified viruses lose their potency almost at once in the wild. This was my favourite conspiracy theory for over a year. I only went off it when the authorities stopped denouncing it and punishing anyone important who said it was true, and instead announced on television that it might be true. Since the hacks in the mainstream media are just bright enough not to tell the truth even by accident, it was half a minute to give up on a year of enjoyable speculation.

There are other conspiracy theories. Regrettably, most of these border on the respectable. For example, the panic is a cover for clawing back some of the manufacturing outsourced to China since the 1990s. Or it is an excuse for ending the unwise monetary policies of the past decade and inflating away the resulting national debts. These all have an appearance of the probable, and are therefore dull before the first paragraph is read. But, looming over all the others, is the merger of scepticism about vaccines and the Agenda 21 conspiracy.

For those unaware of it, Agenda 21 is boring drivel from the United Nations about not cutting down trees. Behind this, though, is an alleged conspiracy to reduce the human population from seven billion to half a billion. Doing this, apparently, will end all the fanciful scares about global warming, and leave the lucky survivors free to use all the electricity they want without feeling guilty.

The latest version of this theory is that the Virus is a fraud, but justifies injecting people with a vaccine that will make most of them fall down dead, or in some degree sterilise them. There are passionate advocates of the revised theory, all of them begging us to keep away from any of the vaccines on offer. I have so far kept away from the vaccines. But there are two problems with the theory:

First, why bother with a deadly vaccine when a deadly virus would be easier? It is hard to make vaccines compulsory, and they can be reviewed at leisure by dissenting scientists. A virus can mow down its victims even as people argue over its origin.

Second, the vaccines are being injected almost entirely into peoples who are not the cause of rising populations. Why kill off or sterilise countries like Italy and Japan and Israel, where populations are already stable or falling, and leave countries like Ghana and Bangladesh free to continue growing by ten thousand an hour?

The theory is untenable as it stands. However, it can be revised into a credible explanation of everything. Let us take these assumptions as true:

First, the English-speaking world is ruled by a semi-united secret state of great ability and great wickedness.

Second, this secret state has ruled much of the world since the final defeat of Germany in 1945, and the whole world since the end of the Cold War in 1990.

Third, this domination is threatened by population growth in the Third World and by China’s refusal to stay an obedient sweatshop. What used to be called the White Race has fallen from about half the human population in 1900 to barely a tenth today. Its share of gross planetary product has fallen since 2000 from about two thirds to about a third.

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You can add concerns about global warming and so forth. But these three assumptions are enough as they stand. Here is the resulting conspiracy:

First, in 2019, the Ones-on-High released a virus they had planted on their Chinese dupes. This was not intended to be deadly, but only to justify the creation of a universal panic.

Second, a group of vaccines was produced. These are not perfectly effective against the Virus, but they do not need to be, as the Virus barely exists as a danger to health. Since then, these vaccines have been injected into almost everyone in the rich countries.

Third, before the vaccines can be injected into more than a trivial percentage of all other populations – I suggest this coming October – the Real Virus will be released. The vaccines are a sure preservative against this. Those populations not yet vaccinated will go down like ears of corn in the blades of a combine harvester. By January 2022, the Israelis will look out from their electrified border fence at a vast silence of rotting bodies, and argue over how much of the Levant they should annex. The British and French will take back their colonial empires. Enough Chinese in the coastal cities will have been vaccinated to keep the factories working. But the peasants will all be dead, and the coastal cities will depend absolutely on food imports from Australia. No more will be heard of global warming, and resources no longer needed for supporting the dead can be directed to the manned exploration of Mars. And this will be the Great Reset – taking the world back to a version of 1914, in which the Germans are no longer actual competitors, nor the Russians potential competitors.

It is a credible conspiracy theory. It has means, motive and opportunity. It explains everything. Do you want to explain the Black Lives Matter protests?

Either, the darker races are slightly telepathic, and they picked up a hint that the Ones-on-High were planning something to their disadvantage,

Or, the protests were contrived by the Ones-on-High to annoy white people and leave them indifferent to the coming genocide.

Give me ten minutes, and I will work out how Brexit and Donald Trump and the current Pope fit in. I can explain the rising price of lithium – if it is rising. I can explain the scratches on my bumper, and the building of a railway station in East Kent where almost no one lives. I can bring in or exclude the Jews according to taste. If the genocide fails to show itself by the end of October, I will move the date to November. If nothing happens by the time the whole of India is vaccinated, I will go silent for a few days, then come back with something about UFO bases at the bottom of the sea.

You may think this rather a light-hearted view of conspiracies. I suppose it is. Even so, there is something odd about this invisible pandemic. It may all be explicable in terms of stupidity. But there is a strange comfort in being ruled by the Ones-on-High. If they do want to murder us all, and feast on our souls, that may be a more meaningful abuse than being pushed about by our useless Prime Minister’s brain-dead cow of a wife.