I’m a very unusual kind of libertarian; I’m an optimist. The fact that libertarians far more impressively credential-ed than I regard positive thinking as little more than a crazed attempt to destroy the last few remains of decency in British culture today, rather like having tea with the Vicar when we should at least be complaining about not having enough guns to shoot him, has never stopped me looking at the full half of the glass.
And listening to the news on the BBC today, I found myself cheering yet again for the greatness of Britain over the dumb arrogance of the rest of the European Union. The Eurozone, we hear, has been forced to halve its economic growth forecast to a miserable one per cent, while the UK, left-wing government and attendant tax hikes notwithstanding, is set to grow by a more-than-double-that two point two per cent.
Now, I am not advocating that libertarians pack up bags and go home to spend the rest of their political lives sitting on cushions of laurels while eating Pot Noodles. Nor do I think we ought to cease our scepticism of all things state-owned, our campaigning for free maket capitalism, or our advocacy of civil liberties and individual freedoms. Bad things are continually happening in the UK of course: this interference with university admissions procedures, for instance, smells very bad to me, even if it is only going to apply to institutions wanting to increase their student fees.
But on the other hand, looking at the wider picture even in that case, although universities will lose out from the new politically-correct impositions, they will also gain from the extra money: so compared to what they were like say fifteen years ago, when I was at Cambridge on a totally free government grant including rent and pocket-money, I’m not sure there’s an argument that things are horribly deteriorating.
Sure, they’re not exactly perfect yet: but what do we expect? The first ever totally libertarian state on the planet, tomorrow? Improvement is improvement, and, as these people say, the perfect society will have to evolve, whether we like it or not. Indeed, its values and practices already are evolving, in the most civilised countries of the West, and slowly spreading. But they aren’t as easy as just wanting them: the nuts and bolts have to be worked out as we go along. The freedom of our country’s future does not depend on whether its government is left, right, “libertarian” (if there were a libertarian political party anyway, of course) or Monster Raving Loony: the freedom of our country depends on what that government actually does.
And at the moment, the United Kingdom is not signing up to the Euro. British people simply do not want the Euro. Hence our economy is more free than that of Europe, and will continue to grow better than otherwise. I predict that the British people will continue to get what they want until long after the Eurozone has fallen years behind in the economic race and given up begging us to join at any price.