Activism in Daily Life:
Casting Votes that Count
by Sean Gabb
25th August 2018
The more raddled and droopy my face grows, the more inclined I am to agree with a proposition put to me by various friends since before I needed to shave. This is that political activism is a waste of time. Oh, writing about politics – analysis, denunciation, a general flying of the ideological flag – that is probably time well-spent. I have always enjoyed it, and may have done no harm to the causes thereby supported. The waste of time is electoral politics and involvement in campaign groups. The first means joining political parties over which we have no control, and that are led by people whose behaviour – and increasingly whose speech – reveals them as our sworn enemies. The second means giving money to people who, with a few percentage wobbles either side, operate on the “Eighty-Twenty Principle.” 80p of every pound you hand over will be spent on whores and cocaine. Whatever remains that is not merely wasted will be spent on getting someone cheap to do the promised work. Read more
Anti-Leftism: A Century of Failure
7th July 2018
I am currently preparing another book of essays by my late friend Chris R. Tame. He was an accomplished bibliographer, and I have been slowed down in publishing his book by the need to type in hundreds of references scribbled over the hard copy. This has reminded me of the immense body of literature produced on our side between about 1930 and 1990. University professors, university journals, policy institutes lavishly funded by big business, economists, historians, philosophers, historians, sociologists, political scientists, journalists – no criticism in this period that could be made of the managerial state was left unmade. In writing his essays, Chris ran over whole libraries of books and articles. I read many of them when I was younger, and was convinced. Read more
Not Just Tobacco:
Health Scares, Medical Paternalism, and Individual Liberty
By Chris R. Tame
First published on the 20th April 2016
By the Hampden Press, London
© Chris R. Tame, Sean Gabb (Editor), 2016
PREFACE BY SEAN GABB (2016)
The Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (FOREST) was an organisation set up in 1979 by the British tobacco industry for the purpose described in its name. Its first Directors were Air Chief Marshal Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris and Lieutenant-General Sir Geoffrey Charles Evans. Though men of some distinction, neither had experience of dealing with the corporate bureaucrats who funded their activities. Their names remained on the headed notepaper, but they were replaced in 1981 by Stephen Eyres, who had been an effective Campaigns Director at the Freedom Association. Under his leadership, FOREST settled into a well-funded and well-connected opposition to the growing clamour against the tobacco industry and its customers. His genius lay in persuading his funders that his increasingly libertarian campaign for free choice was no danger to their own wish for a compromise with the prohibitionists. Read more
Chris Tame (1949-2006) was the Founder and Director of the Libertarian Alliance, and was the most prominent British libertarian of his age.
The works assembled in this book attempt to demonstrate that classical liberalism (or ‘libertarianism’, to employ the more recent neologism for this intellectual tradition) was a richer, deeper and more systematic school of thought than is normally portrayed. They also try to analyse why that tradition went into decline, and why it has, in recent years, enjoyed a revival. A number of the essays are also attempts to apply that more systematic perspective to a number of topics in different disciplines.
Chris R. Tame: Ten Years After
by Sean Gabb
When Samuel Johnson died, his friend William Hamilton commented: “He has made a chasm, which not only nothing can fill up, but which nothing has a tendency to fill up. Johnson is dead. Let us go to the next best:—there is nobody; no man can be said to put you in mind of Johnson.” It is now ten years since the death of Chris R. Tame, Founder and first Director of the Libertarian Alliance. I can think of nothing more fitting that to repeat those words. Read more
Arguments for Freedom of Speech:
A Talk Given at the London School of Economics
to the Hayek Society
on Tuesday the 16th February 2016
On Tuesday the 16th February 2016, Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, travelled to the London School of Economics, to talk to the Hayek Society about freedom of speech.
The London School of Economics is developing a scheme to police all speeches to student societies. This is partly to comply with the British Government’s “anti-radicalisation” laws. The academic who sat in on this meeting was an entirely friendly presence. Even so, Dr Gabb decided at the last minute to give a speech of studied moderation.
- That freedom of speech means the right to publish without legal hindrance on anything that does not breach some private right or involve an act of treason – both of which conditions are to be tightly drawn and continuously monitored;
- That our only confidence in the truth of propositions outside our immediate knowledge rests on a scholarly consensus, openly reached and openly maintained in the face of open challenge;
- Without open consensus, knowledge becomes a matter of prudential faith, attended by some degree of private doubt;
- That the exceptions made for the various kinds of “hate speech” are both arbitrary and inconsistent;
- That anyone who wants universities to be a “safe space” for the sensitive is arguing not for a university as traditionally known in our civilisation, but for a nursery school.
There was a lively set of questions and answers.