Tag Archives: tradition

Liberty and the Swedish Example


Liberty and the Swedish Example

By Duncan Whitmore

“Many are irresistibly attracted to liberty as an intellectual system or as an aesthetic goal, but liberty remains for them a purely intellectual parlor game, totally divorced from what they consider the ‘real’ activities of their daily lives. Others are motivated to remain libertarians solely from their anticipation of their own personal financial profit […] The consequence of the narrow and myopic vision of both the gamester and the would-be profit maker is that neither group has the slightest interest in the work of building a libertarian movement. And yet it is only through building such a movement that liberty may ultimately be achieved.”

                  –  Murray N Rothbard1

In the five decades or so since these words were written, we have been able to come to a more precise conception of what the “libertarian movement” should be and what it should do. As we have explained before, efforts to bring about a world in which a greater degree of freedom prevails are unlikely to be successful if we rely solely on the promotion of abstract concepts (such as “non-aggression”) – indeed, it is difficult to think of a more insipid rallying cry than “leave people alone”. Although there are particular moral propositions and personal qualities that are likely requirements for the sustenance of any free society, freedom is synonymous with self-determination – that different individuals, families, communities and nations will pursue their own goals based upon their own values. It is these varying pursuits themselves (embedded in the culture, custom and traditions of differing peoples throughout the world) which are likely to be the motivating factor, with liberty being the vehicle for their achievement rather than the end itself. Indeed, when we look to the inspirations that motivated some of the greatest authors, poets, artists and composers, they often chose to capture the essence of their homelands in their works: the “Sceptred Isle” speech of John of Gaunt in Shakespeare’s Richard II; Blake’s Jerusalem; Monet’s Sunrise; Smetana’s Má Vlast; Strauss’s An Alpine Symphony, to name but a few. In contrast, we might be waiting a very long time for “A Non-Aggression Symphony” or the “Ballad of Private Property”. Or, to give a sporting metaphor, we can look upon liberty as the pitch, but not the game. The turf needs to be laid and the grass watered and mown, but the motivation to do these things is the thrill of the match that will be played. Read more

Liberty and Society – a Reply to Ben Lewis


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.

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“Talking Politics” – Their Last Judgement (Yahoo! News UK)


Sean Gabb

politics.co.uk

The last judgment

Fri Jul 31 09:31AM

Yesterday saw another little bit of Britain slip away quietly, as the law lords delivered their final judgments in the Lords chamber.

By Alex Stevenson

There was something very British about the whole affair. Something almost pathetic.

Certainly the atmosphere was one of constrained anticipation before the big event. The public gallery was packed, with the queue stretching off and away through the ghostly Palace of Westminster. Inside the chamber, the usually deserted one-row galleries to the sides were full to brimming with as many people as possible seeking to see this little piece of history. There was no vulgar shouting or barging, just polite interest. Utterly British.

Proceedings began as they always have, and will no longer. In trooped the clerks, bewigged and be-robed. Perhaps you could get them to judge whether the latter is a word. In any case they wasted no time in getting proceedings underway, with all rising for the lord chairman to take his seat on the woolsack.

It is with deep shame that this journalist confesses a lack of knowledge to all but the final case. The usual formulas passed by, with each law lord revealing their opinions as they and their predecessors have since – how long? The chief clerk, solemnly bowing between each pronouncement, fiddled absent-mindedly with his white bow-tie. To all intents and purposes it looked like just another day in the office.

But that wasn’t quite true, was it? For prowling the edges of the chamber, appearing insidiously on the steps of the throne and in various galleries, photographers snapped voraciously away. The noble and learned lords studiously ignored their presence as they recorded the demise of parliament’s centuries-old judicial role. Were they ignoring their impending doom? It looked an awful lot like it.

Finally, they came to the Debbie Purdy case, a major news story in its own right. The law lords involved solemnly revealed their intention to force the director of public prosecutions to publish “offence-specific policy” about the case of the right-to-die claimant. There was something fitting about their final judgment resulting in a real shift in the law. It was the law lords at their best.

But it was now over. “My lords, we have delivered our last judgment,” one uttered. “Sadly, our time has come to an end.”

And sad it was indeed, as smiles played over the faces of the wise, implacable ones. This was to be no ground-shaking work of oratory, merely a simple passing away into history. We were told the clerk above the bar had beneath him a Latin inscription to the effect that all things must wrap up.

“We could prolong this session a little longer but the fact is there is nothing left that I can do,” the Last Law Lord bleated.

And that was that: the law lords in the House of Lords rose for the last time, trooping out of the chamber for the final time.

The official sitting in front of me scratched his head thoughtfully, musing on this magnificently understated moment in British history. “I wonder if they’re selling it on DVD?” he pondered.

Talking Politics – Yahoo! News UK