The Coronavirus and the Conservative Party:
Time for a Refund?
9th May 2020
One of my books. Read here for free, or buy a hard copy here.
Since 1945, and arguably since some time before that, the Conservative Party in government has been reliable for one purpose only – this being to let down anyone stupid enough to vote for it. Last December, I thought it would this time be different. The Conservatives had spent two years under attack by an Establishment openly at war both with conservatism and with the causes of conservatism. They swore blind they would take on that Establishment and give us our country back. That was what they promised. It was in their obvious interest to deliver part of what they promised. So millions of us pinched our noses and voted for them. We gave them their best majority since 1987.
Six months later, we are in week six or seven of a lockdown without precedent. Hundreds of thousands of private businesses have been closed since the third week of March, and many will not reopen. Much of the public sector has been sitting at home on full pay, with all the usual contributions dripping into gold-plated pensions. The National Health Service has been made into a new established religion. The police are so in love with their new powers that they are taking more besides. The public finances are a wreck. We are looking at an internal and external collapse of the pound. Cash will probably be abolished. Our mobile telephones will be repurposed as identity cards. Anyone who fell into a coma just before the last election, might, on waking now, assume a Labour victory, followed by an Enabling Act that had taken us into a kind of Venezuela plus social workers. Instead, we are where we are with a Conservative Government. Read more
A Conspiracy against the New World Order?
20th March 2020
I have no particular knowledge of medicine or the natural sciences. However, I remember the Aids panic of the 1980s, when we were told there would be two million deaths by 1990 in this country alone. I remember the Mad Cow Disease of 1996, when we were told that a million people would turn into zombies by 2016. There have been a dozen lesser panics the details of which I presently forget. The Coronavirus may be a modern equivalent of the Spanish Flu of 1918-19. But I have reason to be sceptical. Indeed, if ignorant of medicine in any practical sense, I do know a lot about the bubonic plague pandemics of 542-4 and of 1347-51. These exploded among populations severely weakened by hunger, following downturns in global temperature. The Spanish Flu took hold because of the dislocations produced by the Great War. The human race now has never been so well-fed and so well-provided with medicine. It seems that most victims of the Coronavirus were very old or already in poor health. I do not, of course, welcome any death. But I shall need to see much higher rates of infection and many more deaths – and much and many more outside those groups presently most at risk – before I regard this as other than some collective madness. Read more
Liberty and Society – a Reply to Ben Lewis
By Duncan Whitmore
In a recent post on this blog, the present writer offered an explanation as to why the intellectual accomplishments of Austro-libertarians have been disproportionate to their relatively meagre success in effecting real world change. We concluded that the attempt to merely spread ideas of the justice of non-aggression and the truth of “Austrian” economics is, in spite of its importance, not enough. Libertarians must also learn how to mould these ideas so that they speak to people’s aspirations within the prevailing conditions in which they live.
In a short post on the blog of Bastion Magazine – a relatively new publication which shares similar intellectual and political priorities to those of Mises UK – Ben Lewis has chimed in with something similar, addressing what he calls “the inconsistency of libertarian consistency” – that while conservatives, according to him, concede that libertarianism is a more logically consistent philosophy, this feature does not necessarily make the latter a superior system of thought should it be also inconsistent with “the real life nature of man and society”. These sentiments are in the same vain as three of his earlier blog posts where he discusses voluntary social relations, social duties and his reasons for being a conservative.1
To be fair to Lewis, not every view examined in this essay is necessarily one that he has stated explicitly and it would be wrong to ascribe to him a belief in every matter that is subjected to criticism. However, in the interests of thoroughness, we will examine not only what Lewis has actually said but also that which could be reasonably interpreted or inferred from what he has said.
Getting Libertarianism Right
The Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama, 2018
Introduction by Sean Gabb
(first posted here)
The writings collected in this book are mostly addresses given in Bodrum to the Property and Freedom Society, of which Professor Hoppe is both Founder and President. I was fortunate to hear them read out to the gathering, and I am deeply honoured to have been asked to provide an Introduction to the published versions.
I will divide my Introduction into three sections. First, I will give a brief overview of Hoppe’s early life and intellectual development. Second, I will write at greater length about the academic work that has placed him at the head of the international libertarian movement. Third, I will discuss the main theme or themes that emerge from the present collection. Read more
Libertarianism and the Collective
By Duncan Whitmore
“Liberty means the right to shape your own institutions. It opposes the right of those institutions to shape you simply because of accreted power or gerontological status.”
– Karl Hess1
The libertarian ethic of non-aggression preserves the sovereignty of the individual – that no other person, or group of persons acting in concert, may initiate a physical incursion against your body or against the objects that comprise your property. In this sense you are, permanently, a free and independent being. On the other hand, it is an undeniable aspect of human history that we have grouped ourselves together into various forms of collective – states, nations, communities, congregations, businesses, families and so on – and that these collectives have taken on purposes and characteristics of their own that have served to subordinate the individual to the collective. Indeed, the meanings of these identities – their history, their traditions, their culture, and so on – and the passion that they can arouse suggests that they are far more than the sum of their individual parts. Take, for example, the unique splendour of the Lake District; the stirring words of the hymn “Jerusalem”; the pomp and circumstance of the Trooping of the Colour; or even something as straightforward as sitting in a pub with a pint of beer or munching on fish and chips. All of these things can arouse an overwhelming sense of pride for England and all things English. Surely these things are much greater than and should not be expected to yield to the whims of any one mere individual Englander, particularly when most of them have been around for centuries before him? Read more
By CJay Engel
If ever there was a phrase that deserved more widespread repute in libertarian circles, it is the charming title “Tory Anarchist,” which Murray Rothbard— though not the first to apply it— gave to the likes of H.L. Mencken and Albert Nock in his book The Betrayal of the American Right. What he meant by this phrase, together with a case for its adoption today, are the themes of the present article. Read more
Speech to the Mises UK Conference
at the Charing Cross Hotel in London
27th January 2018
Though ultimately about the future, this will also be a speech that dwells on the past. The first past event that I wish to discuss is what happened in June 2017. When I stood down as Director of the Libertarian Alliance, I was asked if I had taken leave of my senses. I was not visibly broken down by age and ill health. I had evidently not run out of things to say. Why, then, was I steeping aside in favour of a young man who was nearly forty years my junior?
The answer to this question it to look about you. I ran the Libertarian Alliance for several years on life support. I did so with considerable success. One thing I could never do, however, was to arrange a conference – certainly not of this quality nor on this scale. As I stand here, I am more convinced than ever that Keir Martland is the right person to give the British libertarian movement a new start. Read more