Tag Archives: right-wing libertarians

Let’s Talk About: Philip Davies And, Er, Equality?

We’ve had moments like these before, dear reader.  You know the ones. Like the time when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,  prompting Tom Lehrer to wryly declare satire “obsolete”?  Well, today is one of those of days.  Now take a deep breath.  Are you ready? Philip ‘Dismal’ Davies, the Tory member for Shipley and flatmate of Esther McVey, has been elected unopposed (sic) to the Commons  Committee on Women and Equality.  No, you didn’t misread that. A man who is opposed to equality has been elected unopposed (sic) to a committee on equality.  Is that a postmodern turn or what?

So who is Philip Davies? Well, he’s on the  hard right of the Conservative Party but he’d call himself a ‘libertarian’.  He’s one of those libertarians who denies freedom to others.  A lot of them do it.   Since entering the Commons in 2005, Dismal Davies has  made it his mission to support the interests of the powerful over the weak.  In fact, when it comes to those most in need, you’ll always find Dismal in the Commons filibustering a bill that’s designed to protect them.

As a defender of personal freedoms (freedom from poverty or disease excepted), Dismal was once the Parliamentary spokesman for the equally dismal, but now thankfully defunct, Campaign Against Political Correctness. In this role, he bombarded the Equality and Human Rights Commission with a series of trolling letters asking silly questions on topics like blacking up (sic). The Guardian reported:

Davies regularly addresses Phillips as Sir Trevor, leading the EHRC chair to eventually add a handwritten note to one reply: “Thank you for the ‘knighthood’ but HM has – probably rightly – never extended that honour to me!!”

With an obvious track record in attacking feminism and spitting in the faces of the disadvantaged, The Cat wonders how Dismal’s presence on the committee can be anything but disruptive.  More importantly, how was he elected unopposed in the first place?  That says a lot about our democracy.  Doesn’t it?

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Tories, Ayn Rand and Other Things

The current Tory regime – known at Nowhere Towers as the Simulated Thatcher Government (STG) – is fixated with shrinking the state. They don’t even try to deny it. If Thatcher herself “believed” in Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty, then today’s Tory government is inspired by Ayn Rand’s terrible prose. By the way, it’s widely believed that Thatcher hadn’t actually read any Hayek and her knowledge of his ideas were mediated to her by the child abuser, Sir Keith Joseph and former communist, Sir Alfred Sherman.

Four years ago, I spotted, what I’d considered to be, traces of Rand’s ‘philosophy’, “Objectivism”, contained in the 2010 Conservative election manifesto.  Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell (now a UKIP MP) wrote a book called The Plan: Twelve Months To Renew Britain. According to the pair, their book was inspired by Objectivism. They gleefully told their readers that some of their ideas had been adopted by Cameron and co. The book itself offers unsourced graphs and a lot of badly thought out remedies for a series of problems that the authors claim are caused by the state. One stand out line from the book is “the state is running at capacity” (Carswell and Hannan, 2008: 18). Does the state have a capacity? Is there a stated “capacity” for the state or is that just an empty rhetorical device? It’s a curious line to be sure. The Plan is essentially a manifesto for a nightwatchman state. Think of a land with no infrastructure, rampant crime and endemic corruption and you’re halfway there.

Rand’s influence can be heard in the language of government ministers: the insistence on “hard work” and the frequent mention of the somewhat vague concept of the “wealth creator” versus the scroungers and layabouts, resonates with the language in any one of Rand’s turgid novels, which cast the rich as downtrodden heroes and pits them against their nemesis: the moochers and looters – the latter being a shorthand for the enemies of unbridled cupidity. A couple of years ago, Bozza wrote an article for The Torygraph which claimed the rich were an “oppressed minority”.

But there is one minority that I still behold with a benign bewilderment, and that is the very, very rich. I mean people who have so much money they can fly by private jet, and who have gin palaces moored in Puerto Banus, and who give their kids McLaren supercars for their 18th birthdays and scour the pages of the FT’s “How to Spend It” magazine for jewel-encrusted Cartier collars for their dogs.

I am thinking of the type of people who never wear the same shirt twice, even though they shop in Jermyn Street, and who have other people almost everywhere to do their bidding: people to drive their cars and people to pick up their socks and people to rub their temples with eau de cologne and people to bid for the Munch etching at Christie’s.

From this rambling mess it’s possible to deduce that Bozza has at least been exposed to Rand’s trashy philosophy and has internalised its central premise that anyone who doesn’t create “wealth” is a leech. We must slap the rich on the backs, admire the size of their enormous wads and tell them how marvellous they are! What! According to this 2014 Guardian article by Martin Kettle, Sajid Javid (aka Uncle Fester) is also a Rand admirer. Well, blow me down! Peter Hoskin on Conservative Home writes:

Javid explained that this isn’t his favourite movie, but it is the most important to him. He first watched it on television in 1981, aged 12, and even then it struck him as “a film that was articulating what I felt”. From there, he soon read the book, wore out a VHS copy of the film, and brought his enthusiasm for all things Fountainhead with him to university. He even admitted, with a self-deprecating grin, that “I read the courtroom scene to my future wife!”

Uncle Fester’s lack of humanity certainly comes across very strongly in his media appearances, so it comes as no surprise that he would read Rand’s dull prose to his future wife. If I were his other half, I’d be thinking “Why are you reading me this shit? Do you hate me that much”?

The continued destruction of the welfare state; the attacks on the poor and disabled and the emphasis on the slippery concept of “aspiration” are clear examples of Rand’s influence on the STG’s social and economic policies. We can add to this, the compulsion to control all forms of discourse, and their tendency to render all facets of everyday life into neoliberal economisms. This can be seen in the way in which the STG and its allies in the press insist that the main opposition party adheres to the government’s doctrine of presumed fiscal rectitude, thus serving to illustrate not just their desire to shrink the state but to create an authoritarian one-party state as well. Why? Because the Tories despise opposition even if they claim otherwise. If they must deal with an opposition, it is better to deal with one that goes on the defensive every time false accusations are levelled at them.

If the Labour leadership’s rhetoric and policy positions look little different to those of the government, then you’re not really being offered a proper choice at the ballot box. You’re being offered a choice between Coke and Pepsi. Life’s a bitch. Now shut up and eat your shit sandwich.

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Libertarians and nostalgia

Libertarians. Don’t you find them ridiculous? For all their talk of freedom and liberty, they’re nothing more than wannabe feudal overlords. They’re fond of telling us how their idea of a minimal or ‘night watchman’ state will lead to a better world for all of us. Yet, whenever they open their mouths to speak, they inadvertently betray their true thoughts.

The other night I was listening to The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4. On the programme were two self-described libertarians discussing the floods. One of them was Telegraph columnist, Peter Oborne and I didn’t catch the other person’s name. The unnamed libertarian whined about the state and described it very much in the same terms as a teenage boy would describe his parents. “I hate my parents”, was more or less the what he was saying. “Why can’t they leave me alone to pull the legs off this fly”? Oborne told listeners that in the 19th century people would have dealt with the flooding themselves. This almost casual remark about 19th century Britain revealed the inner workings of the mind of the ‘libertarian’: they are not forward-looking, rather they are backward-looking romantics who are only capable of viewing history through the distorted lens of nostalgia.

In a libertarian world, the rich would be much richer than they are now and the rest would live as serfs. For the libertarian, the 19th century was a period of almost unparalleled ‘freedom’ when the bourgeoisie was more or less free to do as it pleased and the working classes knew their place in the hierarchy. It should come as no surprise that the term ‘social mobility’ does not appear in the lexicon of apparent libertarian freedoms.

So what is so great about the 19th century? True, there were scientific advances but there was a great deal of ignorance. Poverty and disease were rampant and most people were kept in the dark about their own body. Colonialism may have brought many riches to the aristocracy and the newly embourgeoisised middle classes alike, but the poor remained resolutely poor. Some libertarian once tried to tell me that the poor were “richer” at the end of the 19th century than at the beginning. The word “poor” means exactly that and the idea that the poor were somehow better off by 1900 is not only laughable, but fundamentally dishonest.

The libertarian right uses all the means it has at its disposal to hoodwink the gullible into signing away its rights for what it calls “freedom”. Yet in a libertarian world, only those who already possess material wealth and the privilege that comes with being members of the middle and upper classes will enjoy any kind of freedom. They’ll tell you that they hate war and that they stand for equality. But many of them would happily invade another country to ensure their bogus concept of ‘free trade’. This is why a good number of them have degrees in War Studies.

One of the favourite themes of the right libertarian is so-called ‘flat taxes’ which they claim are fair and that everyone – the low waged included – will benefit from them.  This is, of course, nothing more than a delusion.  If everyone pays the same rate of income tax, then those who are on meagre incomes will suffer, while the rich carry on as normal. The last time the UK had a flat tax was in the late 80s and early 90s, it was called The Poll Tax and it was seen as ‘fair’ by the Thatcher government. It cost millions to implement and cost even more to pursue the defaulters through the courts.

Right libertarians are accomplished liars who believe in the logic of their own lies. The very idea of social progress is anathema; it sounds too much like real fairness and being closeted social Darwinists, in their eyes, only the strong (in this case, the rich) should survive. If you don’t have the money to pay for the treatment of a chronic illness, then that’s too bad. You die.

Libertarians aren’t capable of looking forward. Their idea of the future – and they won’t admit to this – is to create a dystopian world from highly-selectivized memories of the 19th century. It may well be a technologically advanced world but it would have the feel of the Middle Ages to it, where knowledge is concentrated in the hands of the ruling elite and, even then, only certain kinds of knowledge would be considered valid.

Right libertarians are fantasists who want you to share their dream of a ‘better’ world by signing over your human rights and accepting the marketization of all social relations. Remember, in the world of the right libertarian, the police exist solely to protect the rich and oppress anyone who disagrees or steps out of line. – just as it was in the 19th century.

In the 19th century, Britain was a police state in all but name. No wonder right libertarians view the epoch with such affection.

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Filed under Government & politics, right-wing libertarians, Taxpayers Alliance

Life on Hannan World (Part 10)

One of these days, Dan Hannan will write a blog with the title “Eurosceptics Make Better Lovers” or perhaps “Eurosceptics do it 5 times a night”.  Sometime back in 20o7, the Lyin’ King claimed that “Euro-sceptics make dazzling linguists”. Oh, how I laughed.

Today’s blog is just a silly and has the eye-catching headline “It’s an odd thing, but Euro-enthusiasts are often awkward around foreigners”. Yeah, I laughed at it too. At the top of the blog is a photo of Reagan and Thatcher and I’m not sure what he’s trying to say with this image. It appears to be unrelated.

Hannan has the finest education that money can buy and he still manages to write drivel like this:

Here’s a thing I’ve noticed. Eurosceptics are often better at socialising with people from other countries than are Euro-enthusiasts. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, obviously, and there are plenty of exceptions. Nor is there any way to measure the phenomenon scientifically. Still, I can’t help remarking on the difference.

Really? How about you show us your field notes? Notice how he offers us the disclaimer “It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, obviously, and there are plenty of exceptions. Nor is there any way to measure the phenomenon scientifically”. If that’s the case, then why bother telling us this? He knows he’s bullshitter and he wants to ‘cover his back’ – so to speak.

In blogs like this, the Lyin’ King wants to reassure himself  and his ilk that he and they are better than those who take an opposing position. Here’s the opener:

Back in the palaeo-federalist EPP, MEPs worked together well enough on committees, but usually dined with their own compatriots (except when the dinner was organised, and paid for, by a lobbyist). Our current bloc, the Euro-realist ECR, is the scene of far more cross-border fraternising. Indeed, ours has become the first Group to have adopted (in practice rather than in theory) a single language. Where Continental Euro-federalists often insist on interpretation, Eurosceptics are almost always happy to speak English. The equivalent is true of Britons: our most determined Euro-zealots tend to have atrocious language skills.

You’ve lost me, Danny. What on earth are you talking about? He continues:

These thoughts are prompted by a couple of days spent in the enjoyable company of the European Young Conservatives at their Freedom Summit. There were around 160 people present from 37 countries, from Portugal to Finland, from Iceland to Turkey. They represented mainstream Right-of-Centre parties, were generally in their early or mid-twenties, and had a refreshing belief in liberty, enterprise and patriotism. In accordance with good free-market principles, all had paid to be there.

Ah, the supposedly “Right-of-Centre parties” that are united in their disgust of all things EU, yet are quite happy to take their salaries from the institution they claim to despise. Hypocrisy? Oh yes.

I couldn’t help feelng that they were having a much better time than their equivalents do at taxpayer-funded events run by Euro-federalists. One of the speakers, a London Assemblyman and former soldier called James Cleverly, light-heartedly told delegates to have more sex, on grounds that “we mustn’t let the Left outbreed us” – and I’m pretty certain that some of the young people took him at his word. (Attendees ran the full spectrum from libertarian to conservative.)

Ha ha! Very funny. “The Left” is outbreeding “us”. Nothing like a nice reductionistic narrative that is reduced even further to the act of sexual congress. Then at the end of the paragraph, Hannan tells us that the “Attendees ran the full spectrum from libertarian to conservative”. “Libertarians”, huh? More like grown-up men who haven’t quite managed to grow up.

I’m going to skip the next paragraph, because this one is just priceless:

To put it another way, Eurosceptics know that patriotism is not chauvinism. They cheer the patriotism, and cherish the liberty, of other countries. Rather than tiptoeing around the things that make people different, they delight in them. All of which makes for easier relations.

“Patriotism is not chauvinism”? Come again? Notice how the Lyin’ Kings links the word “patriotism” to “liberty” as though these things were analogous. They aren’t, of course.

The final paragraph tells us:

By the way, the Freedom Summit is now an annual event, held in Cambridge every September. And there are plenty more EYC conferences, events and training weekends all over the continent. If you’re under 30, Centre-Right and in Europe, do get involved.

Hilarious. These pencil-necked, chinless wonders seriously believe that they have a monopoly on the word “freedom”. Of course, their concept of freedom is your slavery.

Next week, Dan will explain why Euro-sceptics write better poetry. I can’t wait.

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Filed under Conservative Party, Europe, European Union, Government & politics

UKIP: elitism, libertarianism, anti-intellectualism and contradictions

Ever since last Friday’s county council election results tumbled in, the Kippers have been crowing. Emboldened, too, by the BBC’s rather one-sided coverage their party, UKIP supporters have taken to social media in their droves to spout their anti-intellectual bullshit and hurl abuse at anyone who doesn’t share their belief that Nigel Farage is Britain’s political messiah. The BBC ought to know better: UKIP doesn’t have a single Westminster MP, while The Green Party not only has an MP, it also has a large number of local councillors and members on the Greater London Assembly (The Green have 2 AMs and UKIP has none). It also has representation in the Scottish Parliament (The Greens have 2 MSPs and UKIP has none), whereas UKIP have found it difficult to win a seat in both parliaments. But the Greens got no mention, while  Farage and his mates Paul Nuttall and Godfrey Bloom have been interviewed and given free passes.

Right-wing parties hate ideas and they despise anyone who possesses critical faculties, whom they erroneously refer to as “elitists”. The use of the word in this context owes a great deal to the American Right who employed the word to describe intellectuals, academics, city-dwellers, the disabled, gays, lesbians, Blacks, Asians and anyone who didn’t share their reactionary point of view. Anti-intellectualism is a dominant feature of far-right politics – especially fascism and Nazism. Franco’s regime wasn’t textbook fascist but it came close. In Spain, the Falange held ideological sway and like other far-right variants it was notable for its anti-intellectualism. In a right-wing world, you question nothing and accept everything that you’re told by the leadership – who form the elite group of their party (as it is with other authoritarian forms of government, including Stalinism). A Kipper will lazily join a few dots rather than produce anything that borders on a coherent argument. Just look at the way they dismiss climate change science out of hand without producing an epistemologically-sound counter-argument  of their own.

Speaking of which, here’s a video of UKIP’s Christopher Monckton railing against climate change.

Monckton once claimed to have been Thatcher’s science adviser… which is odd, because he has no science qualifications. John Selwyn Gummer, the former Environment Secretary, poured cold water on Monckton’s claims, saying that he was “a bag carrier in Mrs Thatcher’s office. And the idea that he advised her on climate change is laughable”. Brilliant, eh? I’ve seen some figures that give us an interesting profile of the typical UKIP voter. 51% are over 50 years old and around the same number hold nothing more than a GCSE. In other words, these are largely under-educated old reactionaries who take their opinions directly from the mouths of UKIP’s elite and the Telegraph’s bloggers who play them and their paranoid emotions like fiddles.

The discursive tricks used by UKIP supporters are redolent of those methods used by the Tea Party in the United States. This is manifested in their inability to discuss anything without hurling abuse or breaking Godwin’s Law. I had several of them rock up on Twitter and spout the most unbelievable rubbish at me. One tried to proselytize and when he resorted to flattery, I cheekily told him that “flattery would get him nowhere” and that I was on the Left of British politics, this gave him the excuse to chuck “Hitler” at me by way of reply. “Nice riposte” I thought, so I blocked him. I can’t be bothered with trolls. The leadership of UKIP describes the party as “libertarian” but as I’ve pointed out elsewhere on this blog, their brand of libertarianism is both a means to deny their true authoritarian core beliefs and rationalize their social Darwinism and imperialism (the latter is perhaps the highest ideal in the mind of the New Right). For example, how can a self-described libertarian party claim to stand for freedom and then say that they’re against equal marriage while keeping a straight face? Well, Kippers can and do. Thus far I have only been able to identify a single example of their libertarianism: the freedom to kill oneself by smoking 100 cigarettes a day. Farage admits to being a chain-smoker. That says a lot about the party’s ‘libertarianism’: it’s pretty selective. Some UKIP supporters believe that those of us who work to expose them as a party of hypocrites and liars are simply scared of them. Well, if criticizing them and shining a light into the dark recesses of their discourses is “scared”, then baby, I’m shit scared; too frightened to come from behind the sofa scared. The only people who are really scared of UKIP is the Conservative Party’s high command. Other Tories, like Daniel Hannan, have even argued for a merger or, in this case, a coalition with UKIP.  Yes, you read that correctly: a coalition with a party that doesn’t have a single Westminster MP.

Let’s have a look at what the Lyin’ King’s saying.

The prospect of a Tory-Ukip coalition is no longer theoretical. A blue-purple pact – which I think this blog may have been the first to propose – is now at least a mathematical possibility in Cambridgeshire, East Sussex, Gloucestershire and Lincolnshire. Whether or not such pacts happen will, of course, be decided county by county, and rightly so. No truly localist party would want to tell its councillors whom to sit with. Still, my guess is that most of the Conservatives in question would rather deal with Ukip than with the Lib Dems.

The Cat thinks Hannan is getting a little ahead of himself here. We’re two years away from a general election and already, the one of the party’s biggest headbangers is calling for a coalition. Of course Hannan is trying to cover his arse by suggesting that the two parties co-operate on a local level to shaft the voters with their authoritarian-libertarian mush. But, make no mistake, a man like Hannan would love to see a Tory/UKIP coalition in government with Bozza as PM and Farage as Deputy PM. Sort of makes you want to vomit. No? Towards the end of his piece, he tells us:

Six months ago, I mournfully predicted that the two parties would fail to get their act together, because of all the petty considerations that held up Canada’s Unite the Right movement for a decade:

“Unite the Right”? Good luck with that, Danny. In my mind, there’s no chance of a unified right-wing electoral arrangement either now or in the immediate future. Indeed, Farage has demanded the immediate removal of Cameron as a precondition for any kind of marriage. We must remember that Hannan was previously involved in the formation of a British (read English) Tea Party. The project, it would seem, has not taken off in the way that he or The Freedom Association would have liked. I guess there is little demand for this kind of Americanized right-wing astro-turfing here in the UK, and as much as men like Hannan enthuse about such things, the more I am likely to think they’re deluding themselves.

The fighting between UKIP and the Conservatives has exposed the barely-concealed fault-lines over the EU within the Tory party that have existed since the time of John Major’s government and his “bastards” comment. On that occasion, the divisions in the party over Europe contributed to the Tories battering at the ballot box in 1997. It now looks like history is repeating itself for the Tories, only this time they face external pressures from the upstart Kippers. Some Tories may be tempted to run off and join Farage’s motley band  of late League of Empire Loyalists and chain-smoking free-marketeers, while others like Hannan will continue to make conciliatory noises without making any effort to join the party. Shouldn’t he be putting his money where is mouth is?

Finally, here’s something for you to dance to.

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Filed under Conservative Party, County Council elections 2013, Government & politics, UKIP

What kind of libertarian are you?

In recent years, the word “libertarian” has been hijacked by the Right, who have transformed the definition of the word from “one who supports the principle of liberty” to “one who supports an idea of liberty that gives license to the elite to continue to exploit others for personal gain”. Personally, I think these soi-disant libertarians suffer from a combination of arrested development and bad parenting. Why do I say this? These so-called libertarians are fond of complaining about “big government” and if you unpack this discourse, it’s no different to a child railing against a parent. Yet, paradoxically and without any apparent sense of irony, they would demand the retention of the repressive functions of the state should their dream of a ‘free’ society come to fruition. So much for liberty.

Among these so-called libertarians, selfishness and greed are celebrated and venerated. Selfishness is one ugly trait that the majority of parents stamp out at the age of 2. “It’s mine”, screams the toddler. Many parents will have witnessed such behaviour and will act swiftly to nip it in the bud, but other parents will cave in as soon as their child starts screaming, stamping their feet and holding their breath.  It’s the children of these parents who grow up to become Right Libertarians. They continue their selfish, greedy behaviour into adulthood and seek to rationalize it with cherry-picked words from Hayek or will hide behind the dull prose of Ayn Rand, whose words are akin to gospel in their eyes.

I saw this amusing cartoon a couple of years ago and I thought I’d share it with you.

The followers of Ayn Rand, who call themselves “Objectivists” (Oh, the arrogance), deny that they are libertarians but their gross misanthropy and their obvious cupidity says otherwise.

Rand dollar signAyn Rand (left) even wore a dollar sign brooch, for crying out loud!

Right libertarians never tire of telling us how much they love freedom and this wide-eyed zeal often seems like nothing more than the veneration of a fetish-object. This is clear in the language they use to promote themselves too. By the way, I’ve never heard anyone say that they “hate” freedom or even love for that matter but love is the last thing on the mind of the Objectivist. I mean, what’s in it for them? If you see what I mean…

As I’ve indicated in previous blogs, the Right’s idea of freedom is narrow and can only define itself against what it perceives as unfreedom. In other words, anyone who isn’t on the Right or doesn’t support a neo-Hobbesian formulation of liberty is, in their eyes, against freedom. If you think the NHS is worth saving, then you “hate” freedom. If you’re a socialist, you “hate” freedom and so on and on it goes.

I support civil liberties and I consider myself to be on the Left – I am a libertarian socialist. To the Right libertarian, this is as bad as admitting to being a Stalinist. Ironic, really, when you remember that many of them gave the thumbs up to General Pinochet and others like him. When you confront them with this truth, watch how they squirm.

Other self-described libertarians will tell you that they are “anti-war”, but will then advocate the use of military force to “open up” markets, often under the rubric of fighting “terror”. Remember Iraq? There were some of these so-called libertarians who saw opportunities created by the invasion and occupation of that country. In fact, they don’t mind sharing a bed with neoconservatives.  Indeed for all their talk about peace between free-trade nations, many of them are ardent warmongers  and some are even members of the Territorial Army (others hold undergraduate degrees in War Studies). What does that say about them and their brand of libertarianism? It says that they lack the capacity for self-reflection and they don’t have the critical skills to interrogate their ideas. It also shows them up for the immature liars they truly are.

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More on the Liberty League

No sooner than I’d published this blog than I found myself dealing with three trolls, all of whom claimed to be dedicated to the cause of freedom. I also had three of them respond to me on Twitter, two of whom abused me (typical) and the other, Anton Howes, the League’s head honcho tried to tell me that they “appealed to left-libertarians”, and asked me if

@buddy_hell spiked +IOI not count as “leftwing” anymore? Besides, orgs not same as ppl who attend our conferences. Many left-anarchists, etc

Spiked? IoI? Left-wing? Same sentence? “Good Lord, no”,  I said but just because they call themselves “left-wing”, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they are. I have already written about the LM network, their origins and their constituent parts in a blog that was cited on Powerbase. Anyone who takes LM’s left-wing credentials at face value is in for a major disappointment.  In fact, the Revolutionary Communist Tendency (the forerunner of the RCP/LM) was expelled from the SWP for being too “right-wing” (sic).

But what is a “left-anarchist”? Is that an anarchist who is not an anarcho-capitalist? Anarcho-capitalism is an oxymoron. Anarchists despise the capitalist system and no anarchist in their right mind would knowingly associate themselves with a network that includes the likes of The Freedom Association or the Institute for Economic Affairs. I told Howes this but I have yet to receive a reply.

Howes also told me that he was a PhD student but it turns out, according to Spiked’s Patrick West (brother of Ed) that he is, in fact, an undergraduate student at Kings College, London. The article was written in March of this year, so it is entirely possible that Howes skipped the Masters degree and went straight for the doctorate. It has been known to happen. He told me,

@buddy_hell and yes, I’d noticed. Although I’m not ‘rightwing’ at all, it won’t stop me using the terms.

He works for the Adam Smith Institute, you can’t get more right-wing than that. But like so many right libertarians, he presumed me to be stupid. They’re an arrogant bunch.

While not being a fan of Spiked, I found some of West’s article interesting because it shed a little more light onto the Liberty League. West opens in strident fashion.

For decades, university students in Britain who wanted to change the world often had little more than a handful of left-wing groups to sign up to. And, as time has gone on, these radical groups have become more and more outdated and divorced from political reality. Left-wing student associations are now more likely to call for state intervention into people’s lives, embrace the welfare state and demand fewer cuts, rather than fundamentally challenging the state’s role.

Ah, yes, the “left” is “outdated”. So presumptuous and so wrong. if Spiked is left-wing, then this West article puts paid to that notion. The left is marginalized. Yes. The left is divided. That’s true. But these libertarians will not change the world in a way that benefits all of society, they want the same world but with bells, whistles and a fringe on the top. Let’s continue,

Howes recognises this phenomenon. ‘People are sick of seeing tonnes and tonnes of Socialist Workers Party or Marxist groups hounding them on tables outside campus all the time, posting fliers and posters everywhere. They think “well, I don’t agree with this”. Students want to see an alternative group on campus that has pro-liberty ideas.’

“People are sick”, he says, “of seeing tonnes and tonnes of Socialist Workers Party or Marxist groups hounding them on tables outside campus all the time”. Does he ever think students may be genuinely interested in left-wing groups? I mean, it isn’t as if the right doesn’t organize on campuses. It does. They just don’t happen to be popular with a good many students and for very good reasons.  The other thing that is evident in the passage is Howes’ insistence that only his network understands the true nature of “liberty”.

The demand for such a group is coming from a mix of students, says Howes, who place themselves all over the traditional political spectrum, from left-wing anarchists to young conservatives. Liberty League now has 30 active student societies on campuses across the UK and it is rising all the time.

I would be interested in seeing exactly how much “demand” there is for “libertarianism” at, say, a post-1992 university like London South Bank for example. These libertarians are top-down, hierarchical types and if you scratch the surface you’ll find an authoritarian underneath. “Left-wing anarchists” that is to say, real anarchists  would have no truck with this kind of “libertarianism”. Further down the article, I found this,

One enthusiastic Liberty League supporter is Gabrielle Shiner, a young American studying at Queen Mary, University of London. Shiner recounts: ‘When I got to the UK I couldn’t really find any student group to join. It was really disheartening for libertarian students. And then Anton, who I’d never heard of, started tweeting asking me if I was looking to get involved in something and I was really excited about that.’

Later we learn that Shiner is involved in Students for Freedom, a US  student libertarian organization that is part of Cato’s “limited government movement”.  We all know what The Cato Institute does but it seems Howes and his buddies don’t or are lying. I think it’s the latter.

So as we can see, part of the League’s job is to undermine what’s left of the rather ineffective Student Unions. There are some universities that have strong SU’s – University of London Union, for example – the rest are little more than providers of student freebies. The process of destroying the SU’s began under Thatcher, who was concerned that the NUS was a hotbed of student radicalism. Instead, we now have a situation where the Right, led by the Liberty League, are attempting to dominate political discourse on campuses around the country.

The Right – the Conservative Party, especially – is against political activity on campus unless it is either right-wing or “libertarian”. This is the reason why the Thatcher government wanted SU’s to disaffiliate; it hated the very idea that students chose left-wing politics over the right. It felt that by eliminating left-wing political discourse on most campuses and confining it only to Oxbridge and other Russell Group universities, it would destroy left-wing politics in Britain for good. It nearly worked.

Pretty disgraceful that @libleague society being discriminated against by Manchester SU in terms of funding, for not backing Demo12

This is pretty typical of the Right. I know how hard it is to set up and run a society but in terms of funding, the SU will only match the membership money and any other monies that the society has raised in its coffers. I get the feeling that the League wanted more than its fair share. But this tells us something else about the Lib League: they support cuts to higher education and regarded Demo12 as something that  only “lefties do”. They are above protest unless it’s to demand more cuts to public services. I wonder how many of them attended the disastrous Rally Against Debt last year?

The one thing that I left out of the original article about the Liberty League was its campus network. If you look at the list, you’ll see one called the LSE Hayek Network. There’s nothing “non-partisan” about Hayek, the great guru of neoliberalism, he is most certainly right-wing and was a supporter of Pinochet’s economic liberalization. You see, economic liberalization can only be forced onto people. If given the choice people would reject it without a second thought.

Right libertarians seek to perpetuate the notion of the importance of the sovereign self over society. Please the self, pamper the self, flatter the self, the self is king. This is the atomized society that Thatcher spoke of; one that is bereft of communities. Our society is in tatters, wrenched apart by the spoilt brat of the sovereign self.

If you inculcate the notion that the individual is more important that the rest of society, before you know it, people will begin to see themselves less members of society but more as consumers at the end of a long supply chain. Individualist anarchists fit in well with Objectivists or Randists, because they place the self at the centre of the universe.

Right libertarians speak movingly about freedom but, as history has shown us, they are more than happy to collaborate with fascists or military strongmen (the  Italian Futurists, for example, described themselves as “anarchists” and joined Mussolini’s fascist government). Anarchists, on the other hand, fight fascism and all forms of authoritarianism. The right libertarian would happily watch as the cops beat the shit out of you for protesting against an authoritarian state.

Cato supported the Pinochet dictatorship. Jose Piñera, the architect of Chile’s private pension system and former Chicago Boy is a “senior fellow” at the Cato Institute. That’s right libertarianism for you.

POSTSCRIPT

Not “right-wing”? The Tories don’t think so.  Last year, Conservative Home heaped praise on the Liberty League.

Here’s a revealing paragraph (I’ve bolded a bit for emphasis),

This work was started by Simon Richards, Director of The Freedom Association, with his vision for ‘Freedom Socs’. There are now five such societies, the first of which launched at York three years ago. In addition to this, there are a large number of libertarian societies, which spontaneously popped up around the country. The Liberty League enables these individual groups to be part of a cohesive network and acts as a gateway for young freedom lovers in the UK.

Bingo!

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