In Defence of Booby Traps


Note: As COVID-19 and the ongoing culture war are likely to be saturating our thoughts at the moment, this somewhat lengthy essay may provide a refreshing opportunity to delve into some libertarian theory concerning the defence of one’s home or business premises from trespassers. Self-defence generally is relatively neglected in libertarian theory compared to theories of private policing and court systems. Nevertheless, if political division continues to translate into increasing violence and civil unrest, then the greater clarity on this topic that the essay below seeks to achieve may not be entirely irrelevant to our current problems.

*     *     *

In Defence of Booby Traps

By Duncan Whitmore

Recently, Walter Block began a short thread on the LRC blog concerning the libertarian position on setting booby traps for the purpose of defending private property from trespassers. The discussion by no means exhausted all of the considerations involved in this topic, but a longer treatment may help to clarify some of the principles concerning self-defence in a libertarian legal order.

Every person in a free society is permitted to use defensive force against invasions of their person or property. Booby trapping does not question the principle of self-defence per se; rather, the difficulty is with whether this particular mode of protection may be considered defensive at all or whether the trap constitutes, in and of itself, an aggressive act in the event that it is sprung. Continue reading

“Bad news coming” thought Winston…


Christopher Houseman

No, not the impending cuts of so many public payroll salaries (some of which have jobs associated with them), but rather a certain commonality in the Coalition about the motives for their present course of action.

Nick Clegg has assured the LibDems that he doesn’t want to cut the state for the sake of cutting it. No, he wants to cut it so he can rebuild the state differently. Likewise, Liam Fox has informed the Tories that he doesn’t want to cut defence and nor does David Cameron (cue Tory applause) – but at the moment, he has no choice.

Thus is the libertarian ideal of a smaller state smeared in the eyes of political activists and the wider public as a necessary evil, a stopping-off point to be endured on the road to the sunny uplands of a reshaped and re-expanded State tomorrow.

Unless libertarians can convincingly and appealingly present to the public the truly joyous reality of being able to work (or not) as we please, with whom we please, to offer goods and services we’re proud of to whomever we please, libertarians will remain marginalised and misunderstood. They’ll be seen as an articulate but callous bunch, perversely rejoicing over the wider dislocation and misery caused by the State’s champions ditching the minions they think they can most easily do without.

When faced with people determined to do exactly the wrong thing, Lenin’s “The worse the better” dictum may be an accurate response to their failures. But it’s no way to market anything to anyone.

PS. I note the Tories’ pledge to let headteachers discipline children for misbehaviour on the way to and from school. I leave the last word on this news to John Taylor Gatto:

As schooling encroaches further and further into family and personal life, monopolizing the development of mind and character, children become human resources at the disposal of whatever form of governance is dominant at the moment.

Has someone shot the gun control lobby’s Cumbrian fox?


Christopher Houseman

Recent events in Cumbria have led to an entirely predictable concern among UK libertarians that even more restrictions on gun ownership and usage are on the way. But on this occasion, I don’t share their pessimism.

UK domestic gun legislation is already among the tightest in the world (which is a bit ironic for a country that is one of the world’s largest arms exporters). Furthermore, even the most dyed in the wool statists are currently resigned to having their budgets (and therefore their de facto powers, at least) cut in the short to medium term. These facts, combined with the rarity of shooting sprees in the UK by licensed gun owners using their own weapons, make any attempt to administer further restrictions uneconomic.

So, might a total ban be contemplated? I couldn’t help noticing from the outset that key elements of the Whitehaven episode didn’t play out according to the standard gun control script. Jamie Reed, the local MP for Copeland was interviewed by the national media as the story broke on 2nd June. Although a Labour MP, he didn’t go along with one reporter’s efforts to corral him into calling for tighter gun control laws. Clearly, Mr. Reed knows something of the realities of his rural constituents’ daily lives. Quite simply, the prominent role of shotguns in particular in rural pest control means that a shotgun ban is unlikely to be supported.

Since 2nd June, it’s emerged that Derrick Bird had held shotgun and/or firearms licences for 20 years with no prior incidents, so it’s unlikely his actions could have been foreseen by anything short of continuous human and/or audio-visual surveillance (and then only in the very short term). Furthermore, it’s also emerged that local police officers had sight of Derrick Bird and might have been able to prevent his last 9 killings – except that the officers were unarmed, and therefore backed off when he confronted them directly.

This last snippet of news has clearly been released in an effort to deflect criticism away from Cumbrian officers. It may have the effect of relaunching the debate over the routine arming of police officers (that would be the state-thinkful option). This is unlikely to be deemed acceptable, but combined with the recent attack on 2 baby girls in their London home by a fox, it opens up new public debate opportunities for libertarians.

What’s the point of relaxing or scrapping the “reasonable force” restriction on householders’ defence of life and property against intruders if householders aren’t allowed to own and train with the best technical means available for home and self-defence (including pepper sprays, tasers and guns)? No wonder ministers are getting jittery about changing the law. And as urban foxes get more numerous and bold, isn’t it time to stop thinking of home defence purely in terms of repelling human burglars?

But what, you may ask, if the forthcoming debate does result in the police being routinely armed? In that case, civil libertarians of all stripes will unite to get it reversed. A significant number of police officers will meanwhile complain about the potential damage to their public image, and the extra pressures routine carrying of a gun will put on them. And then we will have to wait and see how well the state’s prefabricated “one rotten apple” justification will stand up to the public outcry when an armed police officer finally goes on the rampage with a Heckler and Koch. What, then, will be the justification for using the law of the land to allow only the police and the criminal classes to carry guns in Britain?

Intellectually speaking, at least, I suggest the gun control lobby is only a few steps away from shooting itself in the foot.

Why the Tories WILL lose the next election


David Davis

Janet Daley on political conviction and liberalism. We libertarians will sadly be proved right that the Tories, if they were to win which is looking increasingly improbable, will come in for mega-scumbaggings from us all.

Perhaps it will be better for Gordon Brown to win. The Chindo-Australian bankers WILL foreclose on the UK, there WILL be a meltdown within a year, and a resolution will be sought. The tragedy is that the wrong things will be “cut” – such as 100% of defence, and also too much money will be left with the Police, of which we will be promised “more of” on the “beat”.

Gramscian institution-destroying: last steps – discredit the Army


David Davis

It is not suitable to abuse civilians in occupied territories. Not if you are a Classical liberal trying to spread liberalism: but it’s what European armies have always done, because it gets the immediate statecraft-results desired by whichever occupying warlord is doing the occupying.

It is also interesting that these allegations seem to surface at times convenient for the Occupying Power currently posing as the British National Labour Party. One is inclined, right now, to read what the Ministry of Defence is up to, or what it takes in bonuses, and then believe exactly the opposite of what it said about it. On principle.

It is unlikely that British squaddies have been abusing people, in my experience of them – whether in Iraq or anywhere else. Perhaps in base camp the new-bugs could be ragged a bit, after a good night out, but no more than that.

I think that the government needs to accomplish two ends here. (1) To demoralise further the still-resisting Services, and (2) to amplify “anti-war” sentiment in the UK so it can play up a “we are forced to” excuse to pull out as it’s bust.

Yes we are bust, but there’s billions and billions could be saved, and used for the Forces, by:-

(A) Abolishing and terminating (utterly) DEFRA, the Interior Ministry, the DTI or whatever it’s called, the Dept of Education and Skills, the “department of culture, media and sport” (WTF?), all Quangos and NGOs and fake-charities,

(B) Shutting down and locking-out all departments of “Councils” that deal with anything other than public libraries, park benches and lavatories,

(C) Canceling the “Olymp-Ics”, selling the sites, sacking the staff, telling the IOC exactly how useful it is in fairly graphic “Devil’s Kitchen” type terms, which is to say about the same as a broken bird-scarer, or a gutter-cleaner which has rcently failed to wokr properly, and of less use than a frying-pan,

A fledgeling Libertarian administration will be beset with enemies on all sides. We may not be able fully to silence really quite vitriolic opposition, from such people as “un-assimilated” groups within the UK, such as sacked “Hospital Trust Managers” who have lost their pensions and jobs, and “Soviet-Lesbian-Outreach-co-ordinator-enhancers” who have lost their “departments”. Moreover, we may also not be safe from, perhaps, “insurgents” from foreign parts, such as “CuboVenezuelan Military Advisers” – this assumes that CuboVenezuela will not have been “done” by the time we come to power, and Ken Livingstone has still not died of any terrible or incurable disease which prevents him from travelling or speaking.

It would be nice to have the Armed Services, and those kinds and classes of people who staff them, on our side from day-one. Even though we (all?) believe in the prospect of a world where these sad things are not needed.

if a Libertarian government had a “defence sec”, at least he’d look like one


David Davis

Well, there you go. I could not remember his name until about a minute ago. It’s “Des Lynam”, isn’t it: either Des or Bob, but probably Des.

If we are others are right about an ultimately global agenda for total control of all populations under “law” and slave-driving-prohibition (see IP-J’s formal comment on us earlier, here) then something inevitable follows. A Libertarian government will not only need (sadly but inevitably) the forces and the “kit”, but someone who looks and talks the part as War Secretary – replete with all appropriate knowledge of sad detail –  to bolster the credibility of the “Foreign Libertarians’ Office”, and the Chiefs of Libertarian Defence Staff.

Someone next to whom the Soldiers do not feel uncomfortable when being photographed. (Famous quote about John Major, from that blue-hatted chap we had in Bosnia: “I’m not sure my soldiers want to be photographed, standing next to a **** like that…”)

I see the main strategic objective of the “Foreign Libertarians’ Office” as actively helping classical liberals and libertarians everywhere outside UK Libertarian Jurisdiction. This may be via “promotional” programmes such as literatire, websites, conferences, endowing University Chairs etc, and it may also simultaneously be via “other” methods, it being a duty to spread the axiomatic doctrine of individual liberty based on Natural Rights and the true Nature of Man.

...er....

...er...I'm the Secretary for War...