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A Welshman protests

There’s been lots of talk here in the UK, over the past few days, about the core beliefs of the Conservative Party leader, Michael Howard. This fragrant Man of Wales published these core beliefs in the Times Newspaper, last week, basing them heavily upon the spirit of the American Constitution.

About a year ago, I would have signed up to them. But since then many good men and women have directed my thinking towards an entirely different direction. So I wondered this evening, after trying to avoid the issue for several days, if I could still support the Tory party, especially after their former Chairman, Norman Tebbit, recently declared on the BBC that he greatly admired public service broadcasting.

So, right up to the minute here on Samizdata.net, what would your beliefs be? Here are Michael’s:

I believe it is natural for men and women to want health, wealth and happiness for their families and themselves

So far, Michael, I’m with you.

I believe it is the duty of every politician to serve the people by removing the obstacles in the way of these ambitions

Hmm. I am starting to slip. How about ‘I believe politicians are the obstacles, and it is their duty to shut up, resign their posts, and start working for a living rather than free-loading off the rest of us’?

I believe people are most likely to be happy when they are masters of their own lives, when they are not nannied or over-governed

Again, superficially, as a closet Tory, you could support it. But look at that phrase ‘over-governed’. What is ‘over-governed’? Who decides? The politicians? Take out the word ‘over-’, Michael, and I’m right behind you.

I believe that the people should be big. That the state should be small

Well, yes, this one is rather obvious, with the word ‘small’ needing to be replaced by the word ‘removed’. But at least Michael’s heart is in the right place.

I believe red tape, bureaucracy, regulations, inspectorates, commissions, quangos, ‘czars’, ‘units’ and ‘targets’ came to help and protect us, but now we need protection from them. Armies of interferers don’t contribute to human happiness

Yes, I could be pedantic about this and claim that red tape, bureaucracy, etc., never came to help us, but were always ruses to wrap us in chains. But I will give Michael the benefit of the doubt on this, especially because of that second sentence about the armies of interferers.

I believe that people must have every opportunity to fulfil their potential

Difficult one. Define opportunity. Is this something the government provides, or is it something that individuals provide themselves with, which the government currently prevents them from developing? You are going to have to be more precise than this, Michael.

I believe there is no freedom without responsibility. It is our duty to look after those who cannot help themselves

Oh dear. Duty. And in what way does this ‘duty’ manifest itself? As compulsory taxation, perhaps? How about ‘I believe there is no freedom without each individual taking responsibility for their own lives, to the best of their own abilities, and if they choose to do so, being allowed to freely help others.’

I believe in equality of opportunity. Injustice makes us angry.

I am surprised Lord Saatchi, the joint Conservative Party Chairman, let this slip through the copy-editing stage.

Michael slides from an individualistic ‘I’, to a collectivist ‘we’, without even blinking. This is a bad sign. Smoking in private restaurants makes ‘us’ angry, if ‘we’ happen to be pink-haired, face-studded, bike-riding, red-light-breaking, combat-trouser-wearing, Dr Marten booted New Left warriors, out to destroy everyone’s pleasure in the world. Again, what is opportunity, what is equality, what is injustice? All three are whatever you choose to define them to be. And I am sure that over the full term of your tenure, as Leader of the Conservative Party, Michael, these definitions will be as fluid as the contents of a fish tank.

Ok, so that is me being negative. What about something positive then? Let’s try to rewrite it:

‘I believe that each individual should have no special legal privileges dependent upon who they happen to be, or who they happen to know, and that no individual should be able to make legal claims upon another, who has in no way harmed them, who would otherwise freely choose to ignore those claims. The use of privilege, particularly government privilege, where individuals use their government-granted client group status to rob off another group, makes me angry.’

I believe every parent wants their child to have a better education than they had

And that mom makes great apple pie. Sorry, I am still trying to stop being angry after that last one. Okay, I will hand Michael this truism. But even Tony Blair could say this, and mean it, couldn’t he? So where’s the beef, Michael? How about, ‘I believe that every parent should be personally responsible for their own child’s education, and should not mooch off others, via coerced taxes, to acquire it’?

I believe every child wants security for their parents in their old age

Another truism, that any politician could say. But seeing as I am free from the democratic responsibility of trying to get elected by millions of moochers, how about, ‘Every individual should be responsible for themselves in their own old age, though if individuals choose, through love, to support older relatives, or to support other older people of their choosing, through either direct personal action or the support of private charities, they should be free to do so.’

Old age security is going to be the worst of the welfare state’s problems to solve, once the rats’ nest of government insurance implodes. How do you adapt what I have just said to those millions of people in the UK who have had their life savings destroyed by government inflation, government borrowing, and government taxation. Who have then spent their entire working lives paying off other people’s pensions, and who have then been forced by government dependency-creating policies to not save for their own old age? Tough cookie. I will have to add a proviso.

‘When the government is abolished, all and any such profits generated will be allocated on a proportional basis towards the amount of tax you have paid in your lifetime, with a particular skewing drawn up by any economist with the surname of Friedman, towards anyone approaching infirmity.’

I do not believe that one person’s poverty is caused by another’s wealth

Nice one, Michael. Now you’re getting it.

I do not believe that one person’s ignorance is caused by another’s knowledge and education

The drum roll builds.

I do not believe that one person’s sickness is made worse by another’s health

Say, hallelujah, brother.

I believe the British people are only happy when they are free

Okay, I could be a real pedant here and ask Michael to define freedom, but if you can accept that he means ‘freedom from dictatorial tyranny’, and blur the edges as to whether any amount of government is a dictatorial tyranny, then I can just about let this one squeak past, in my pompous magnificence.

I believe that Britain should defend her freedom at any time, against all comers, however mighty

Now, this is where I cannot avoid mentioning the blurring. Michael is slipping away from the ‘British people’, a group of individuals mostly living in the British Isles, towards ‘Britain’, i.e. the personification of the British state, a body he wishes to be subservient to his will. As our servant, naturally.

Fortunately, Mr Bezos has just informed me that he has put my copy of The Myth of National Defense in the post to me, from Seattle. So I will be better prepared to tackle this question at some future date.

Until that happy day, I will give Michael another benefit of the doubt.

I believe that by good fortune, hard work, natural talent and rich diversity, these islands are home to a great people with a noble past and exciting future

There is little there to disagree with here, in fact, you could end a great libertarian book with a line like that. It almost sounds like something Uncle Murray could’ve written, certainly Herr Hayek.

All in all, I think Michael Howard’s beliefs are lined up in the tradition of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. If we must have politicians, then he’s heading in the right direction. I am also confident that readers of a certain illiberal bossy-boots newspaper, here in the UK, will have hated these core beliefs, so that must increase their relative quality. The way Howard just keeps trouncing Blair in the House of Commons also helps, too.

However, there are just too many holes, too many easy homilies, and too many blatantly missing beliefs. Here are three I chose entirely at random, even watered down and written by a man in my head pretending to be a Conservative Party candidate.

I believe that all taxation is bad. I will cut it and I will cut the waste it currently supports. If you do not feel I have halved your taxes by the next election, here’s a quote for you. Sling me out.

I believe that the NHS has failed. I say that after sixty years of this continuing and easily predictable failure, enough is enough. When you elect me I will transform every operating unit of the NHS into a private charity and I will then abolish the NHS. May God have mercy on my soul.

I believe the BBC is both a waste of money and a nest of illiberal vipers. I will abolish the license fee, to help make the poorest in this land wealthier, and I will then sell the BBC off to the highest bidder. All of the profits generated will be used to provide endowment funding to free as many Universities as possible from the future interference of any British government. Oh, and while I am at it, I will get us out of the EU as well. Just for fun.

I am sure you could add many beliefs of your own. Though I do still have this horrible feeling that when the time comes you will still find me wandering the Oxfordshire streets of ‘Thame’ and ‘Nettlebed’ handing out copies of Boris Johnson manifestoes. I have to ask. Does anyone have a cure for this?

35 comments to A Welshman protests

  • ernest young

    I think your doubts about the Tories are well founded, I cannot see his theatrical ‘pledges’ as being anything more than a ‘sales flyer’, to let folk know that he is stiil around. I certainly do not see it as any more than a puff of smoke. A short ‘Christmas Message’ would have been preferable.

    I see the Tories as being little different from Labour, different breeds, but the same species.

    They had their chance, and blew it when they chose Major. One, two, or even three terms in charge are not really enough to change a nation’s thinking. They are now paying the price for the smug complacency that seems to be so much of their collective character. Over the years they have conceded just too much to Labour, to be taken at all seriously.

    The damage done by Labour to the structure of life and politics in the UK, will take years to rectify, which is of course, just what people(?), like Blunkett, Toynbee (she actually said as much recently),and others have been trying to achieve.

    Even if elected, the Tories can do no more than tinker with the system – that is all that the media will let them do.

    Like David, I am pessismistic of any real change without some sort of disaster. I would prefer a political Messiah to appear, but that ain’t gonna happen.

    Look on it as the start of the ‘Second Dark Age’, because it sure isn’t going to be ‘The Enlightenment, Pt II’.

  • Bill Llewellin

    Last time I looked, I got the impression that the most popular party among my ‘homies’ in the old country was the Welsh Communist party. This fellow would get my vote untill someone better comes along. Face it: Ayn Rand isn’t on the ballot.

  • Julian Morrison

    You know, I think that list of beliefs was a covert message to libertarians. We understand “I do not believe that one person’s sickness is made worse by another’s health”. Lefties do not, it confuses them. “Neither do we, who does?” they say.

    Don’t expect a politician to just come right out and spell out their opinions. Everything they do and say is a move in the game. Howard just hinted that the tories are swinging heavily toward libertarianism, from their centerleft-authoritarian position under Hague and IDS. Now it’s time to watch his actions, to see if he follows through on the hint.

  • Bernie Greene

    I’ve never voted anyone else but Tory my whole voting life but I haven’t voted at all since ’92. When I heard about the publication of these “core beliefs” on R4 I was intrigued enough to seek them out. I had the impression from the reports that this was something of a statement of guiding policy from the Tories. What a disappointment. I don’t think there are any statements that Tony Blair himself coudn’t say himself they are so lacking in substance.

    I thought tax freedom day was a good idea but has there been any other statement of policy from them recently. As someone else said recently, sorry I don’t remember who, the Conservative Party is the party of the Establishment of the day. So we have three major parties who all support the major insanities of democracy and pretend to be different from each other.

  • It’s me and Ernest against the world!!

    It is also worth reminding ourselves, though, that the Conservative Party is…well, Conservative and not a Libertarian Party in disguise. The constant deflation of spirit we feel every time they open their mouths probably has a lot to do with Margaret Thatcher (pbuh) who raised the bar of our expectations in the 80′s.

    As Andy has pointed out, there are some promising nuggets in Michael Howard’s pronouncement but it is all couched in the terms that remind us just how much moral legitimacy the Tories have surrendered to the left over the years. Maybe too much to retrieve.

    My concern about the Tories (or, perhaps I should say, one of my concerns) is not so much that they will fail to provide solutions but that they are not even aware of what the real problems are. Would a future Conservative government (assuming we all live long enough to witness such a thing) really have the grist to take on the entrenched, vested interests of the parasite class? The EUrocrats? The tranzis? The cultural warriors? The luddites?

    I have actually raised this in honest-to-goodness conversation with real, existing Tories and the response is always the same and consistently infuriating: “politicth ith the art of what ith pothible, deah boy”.

    For me that translates, as ‘get into power and maintain the status quo. No boat-rocking, for goodness sake’. As best as I can tell the radical spirit of the Thatcherites is all dead, gone and grown over with Majorite compromise and genteel surrender to the yellow-fanged dogs of the left.

    Since the overthrow of Maggie, the Tory grandees have worked night and day to expunge every bit of talent, principle, ambition and brain from the party for fear that her legacy would threaten them again. What they have left is a hollow shell; a wheezing and toothless simulacram of the political wing of an old and defeated ruling class.

  • “I believe politicians are the obstacles”

    Now come on. The man is a professional politician. It is what he does and what he is. You and he start out on different planets. If he believed what you believe he wouldn’t be doing what he does.

    The whole “core beliefs” thing is about appealing to voters. It has to be read that way. It is marketing. It need not be insincere, but it is certainly not meant to be intellectually coherent, it is meant to keep existing tories on the ranch, and reach out to others. As Julian Morison put it well: It is a move in the game.

    The only pertinent questions to consider when looking at supporting a politician are: (1) can he win? (2) If he doesn’t, who will? (3) If the other person does, will that person be worse? Possessing answers to those questions gives you all you need to make a decision.

    I recall reading a comment by a fellow who grew into young manhood under the Habsburg empire. He thought nothing nearly as good had happened in that part of the world in the ensuing decades. He commented that unlike most people, he knew throughout his whole life that the government he would prefer to live under was never going to exist. Sad, but realistic.

    The kind of people who like this blog are going to live and die and never see a government anything remotely like the one they imagine would be best. This or that aspect may come into existence, conditionally and temporarily. But overall, no.

    So, the question is never, does this guy believe in the same Promised Land I have always dreamed of? It is always the more prosaic, practical problem of minimizing damage and looking for small incremental improvements.

  • KenO

    Ah, come on.

    I am tired of libertarians complaining about imperfections of politicians on the right.

    I am libertarian myself, but I would ALWAYS vote for Tories (or Republicans in the US) when given the chance.

    The utopic belief that only someone with Hayek’s economic program and Rand’s moral clarity should deserve our vote is ridiculous.

    In single seat parliamentary system like Britain or America, a splintering of the Right vote will cause the Left to win – every time.
    And given the choice between 100% collectivism and 80% Liberty, I choose 80% Liberty.
    And by voting for the candidate expousing 100% liberty, my vote will actually result in 100% collectivism.

    If 600 Libertarians in Florida had voted the Libertarian Party instead in of voting for Bush, Gore would have been president.

    An awful thought I rather not even consider.

  • Tony H

    100% collectivism versus 80% liberty might be the choice you have in your part of the USA, but the political lineup in the UK offers us choices of a (very) few percentage points difference in taxation & regulation. I would vote like a shot for 80% liberty if offered it, but last time around I couldn’t vote for anyone: I couldn’t see enough difference. As for Thatcher, she was refreshing, and it’s encouraging to see she was so effective that her name is villified by the Left even now. But despite the economic turnaround, she was very much a victory of style over substance: check out the government-spent proportion of GDP at the end of those 18 years of Tory rule…

  • I agree with Julian, Howard seemed to hint our way. Purity is obscurity.

    If you want to mock from the sidelines fine, but if you want to shift things you have to get dirty with democracy. Just don’t forget your objective.

  • Chuck the Obscure

    I believe that the Conservative Party is no longer able to find the clitoris of the British people.

    I believe that the Conservative Party has a big wide pussy where you could do a U-turn in an SUV thanks to several decades of intellectual prostitution.

    I believe that the Conservative Party has a big wide rectum where you could do a U-turn in an Humvee thanks to several decades of bending over backwards to bend over forwards and allowing itself to be sodomised by the Left.

    I believe that the time has come for the Conservative Party to flush itself down the toilet bowl of history.

    ‘Tis a Pity She’s a Whore.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Here’s a question for Howard:

    Name me one government spending programme you would abolish immediately.

  • Jacob

    This rhetoric of Michael Howard is far better than the rhetoric his three Tory predecessors gave us. It is good that he believes this, or feels the urge to proclaim he beleives this. It is good that he felt the urge to send a message to libertarians.
    It’s no use to always complain, even over positive developements.

  • Verity

    Jonathan’s question wasn’t addressed to me, but I thought I’d get the ball rolling …

    the NHS
    the CRE
    every single quango in Britain
    regional assemblies – dear god!
    our “contribution” to the CAP
    most universities – privatise them
    cut the number of MPs by one-third

  • Guy Herbert

    ….. the entire DFID; the entire DSC; almost all the DWP and DTI; the Home Office’s population register and ID card preparations; the GLA; various commissioners and tsars; our contribution to the (virtual) Eurofighter; the Olympic bid…

    (I suspect, Verity, that there are some quangos somewhere doing necessary jobs, but maybe exterminating them all and then checking to see what isn’t working is the best course.)

  • Charles Copeland

    To second Guy,

    I would start with — guess what? — the abolition of the Commission for Racial Equality and the defenestration of Trevor Phillips.

    We all have our dreams.

  • Verity

    Ministries of funny walks: Culture, Sport, whatever Patricia Hewitt is in charge of, Overseas Aid (it should be a desk and a fax tucked away in the Foreign Office somewhere), and so on. I don’t believe you’d get a single voter, left or right, objecting to the abolition of any of these.

  • Charles Copeland

    Verity,

    You forgot to add the Equal Opportunites Commission and the Disability Rights Commission.

    Shame!

  • Verity

    Darn! Two unforgivable oversights! Also, I don’t know the name of it, but whatever department gives grants for making gritty movies about them up Nawth that no one ever goes to see and grants for the flimflam boys ‘n’ girls who perpetrate Brit art. (This may be the Ministry of Culture, though, which I’ve already abolished.)

  • Charles Copeland

    Jacob writes:

    “This rhetoric of Michael Howard is far better than the rhetoric his three Tory predecessors gave us. It is good that he believes this, or feels the urge to proclaim he believes this. It is good that he felt the urge to send a message to libertarians.
    It’s no use to always complain, even over positive developments.”

    But rhetoric was all it was. As the cartoonist said in yesterday’s Sunday Times: I believe in every drop of cant that falls.

    Howard did not offer a single, concrete proposal. Bite the bullet and face the bitter facts: the Conservative Party is as brain-dead as a dodo.
    It is, truly, The Stupid Party.

  • Verity

    Charles – to be fair, I think Howard is erring on the side of caution right now because he knows that any clever and popular proposals will catch the fickle magpie eye of Tony Blair, who will incorporate them – watered down and wrecked – into yet another “initiative”. I think the Tories are right to speak in broad generalities just now and wait until closer to the election to come up with well thought out proposals that would otherwise be nicked for election purposes, then jettisoned.

  • “Its pissing out of the tent, than pissing in” (The only decent thing that LBJ said.)

    Snipping from the sidelines will achieve nothing really. There are Tories who have libertarian instincts, unless we engage them, libertarians have no hope of changing the party.

    This pledge is a good start. I think its a good idea and it good to see Howard for doing it.

  • “Its pissing out of the tent, than pissing in” (The only decent thing that LBJ said.)

    Snipping from the sidelines will achieve nothing really. There are Tories who have libertarian instincts, unless we engage them, libertarians have no hope of changing the party.

    This pledge is a good start. I think its a good idea and it good to see Howard doing it. Now if he has done a proper cull of CCO there might be hope for him.

  • David Crookes

    David asks “Does anyone have a cure for this?”

    Crypto-anarchy still hasn’t been tried.

  • Eric the .5b

    WRT all the people describing this as “reaching out”, cryptically or otherwise, to libertarians:

    What evidence do you have that these people care about who libertarians vote for, or think they’re a large enough group to expend effort to court?

  • Guy Herbert

    For the record, I, too, think it is a very good start.

    A number of sensible press commentators at the weekend offered the criticism that this was anodyne that no-one could seriously disagree with. They got a sharp rebuttal in the Grauniad letters-page, where correspondents were frothing at the mouth at the idea that wealth doesn’t cause poverty and regulation might be a problem not a solution. It begins to look like a perfect pitch delivery.

  • HitNRun

    I hear that kind of piece all the time here in the states; it’s typical of an antigovernment politician trying to get his message out under the eye of a Media and a lefty community that would get lathered up at any sign of abolishing elements of the “Great Society.”

    Of course, you’ve obviously had a different experience with regards to Intent vs. Results, so take my endorsement of the man’s sincerity with a grain of salt.

  • Antoine Clarke

    “Fragrant”? Of what? Formaldehyde?

  • Antoine Clarke

    Most of the silly art subsidies seem to come from the National Lottery so there is at least a voluntary aspect to it. If you don’t like British films subsidized by the state, don’t pay to watch and don’t play.

  • Julian Morrison

    Another possible purpose of this: it could be the prelude to a purge. “I believe X, are you with me or against me?”

  • Wild Pegasus

    If 600 Libertarians in Florida had voted the Libertarian Party instead in of voting for Bush, Gore would have been president.

    An awful thought I rather not even consider.

    What would Gore have done? Pass a massive increase in medical socialism? Pass a huge increase in state centralisation of education? Construct a newer, bigger, more elaborate agricultural welfare system? Seriously curtail civil liberties? Start two wars with countries that have done us no harm? Run a massive deficit, growing the state at something like 12%-15% a year?

    Oh wait, the Republicans are doing that.

    - Josh, pissed New Jersey patriot

  • Wild Pegasus makes the classic error. Because the guy we have is bad (by his lights) the other guy either (1) could not have been worse, or (2) would have been prefereble because he’d have been so awful that everyone would have then had their eyes opened and seen the error of their ways. These are both wrong.

    One of the iron rules of life is this: “it can always be worse.” I’ll assert it: Gore would have been much, much worse. The “medical socialism” and agricultural subsidies were politically inevitable. And we were going to run a deficit in a recession anyway.

    And Gore would never have cut taxes. For one, thing, many billions of dollars in tax cuts which will be in the pockets of the American public would not be there if Gore had gotten in. On economic issues as bad as you think Bush to be, Gore would have been worse.

    If Gore had gotten in, 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq would still be living under tyranny. As to Afghanistan never having done anything to us, that is wrong. It harbored the organization that murdered 3,000 Americans. As to Iraq, it attacked a neighbor in 1990, lost a war to the USA, then proceeded to violate the terms of the cease-fire. One of many, many legal justifications for the the invasion. But, he is right about this much. If you do not think the wars were justified, then Gore would be your man.

  • Cobden Bright

    “The kind of people who like this blog are going to live and die and never see a government anything remotely like the one they imagine would be best.”

    I’m sure people told communists the same in Imperial Russia, or Hitler in Weimar Germany. Like most people, you vastly underestimate the possibilities of change.

    A libertarian or quasi-libertarian state could exist within 5 years if Bill Gates or anyone on the Fortune 500 happened to be of that bent. Buy up the sovereign rights to a strip of land in Africa, hire Sandline and other PMCs on a 5 year retainer for defence, spend a bit on irrigation and a police force, and within 15 years you would have the highest GDP per capita on the continent.

    Economic freedom is so scarce that any country possessing it will boom at a massive rate, so long as it has law and order and avoids military conquest. All it takes is a small handful of people with access to a large, but not outlandish, amount of money, and the willpower, organisation, and hard work to do it.

    In my opinion, the major obstacle to a libertarian society is not the difficult of setting one up, but the stubborn persistence of libertarians in spending all their efforts trying to radically reform the entrenched social order of their home societies (or tweaking the existing order 1% in their direction). Politicians and government-dependent classes will fight tooth and nail not to be eliminated – you simply will not beat them without a full scale revolution, which no one will ever sign up to unless things get *really* bad. Winning the culture war is difficult if not impossible because the majority don’t care about political ideals, and are either scared of radical change, or simply not at all liberal in their views. Tweaking the existing order is achievable, but achieves little, by definition.

    The only realistic chance is to set up a country yourself, or possibly to do something like the “New Hampshire” experiment.

    If libertarians actually tried to apply their efforts towards concrete action where it might bear fruit, then I think the chances of establishing our type of preferred government somwhere on earth is actually quite good.

    One thing is for sure, it certainly won’t be achieved by voting Tory or Republican. Resigning yourself to tweaking the system is not too far from simply giving up, and ironically most never achieve even that limited goal.

  • Shawn

    Josh:

    “Start two wars with countries that have done us no harm?”

    One of those countries, Afghanistan, willingly provided the base of operations and support for the terrorist group responsible for the first direct attack on American soil since Pearl Harbour, an attack that ranks as one of the worse terrorist atrocities in history, the same terrorist group that has openly decalred war against the U.S. and called for the death of American citizens throughout the world.

    The other tried to assisinate one of our Presidents and funded terrorism against one of our allies.

    Your concept of “no harm” is is interesting.

  • KOle

    I am starting to agree with David Horowitz when he says that some Libertarians have a lot in common with collectivists and socialists.

    They seem to share this utopian and completely irrational view of the world. (“workers paradise” and “lets buy some land in Africa and the world will become libertarian” are equally utopian and senseless)

    I am libertarian (objectivist), but I vote Republican every time. Bush has actually surprised me in a good way, and he is guaranteed to get my vote in ’04.

  • Shawn

    I agree with KOle.

    Back in the dark days of my misbegotten youth I was, for a brief period, a socialist. I came to my senses eventually and embraced conservatism and more recently libertarianism. While libertarianism is certainly a far more logically consistent political philosophy than conservatism, libertarians, and libertarian organisations, sometimes remind me of socialists. Anyone who has ever spent time in radical socialist groups will know that one of the major features of the socialist left is a utopian, puritanical and fundamentalist approach to doctrine that leads to two results. Constant civil wars over minor matters of doctrinal purity with the never ending splits and schisms that result, and marginalisation. The “Third Way” Blairite/Clintonian center left has been able to monopolise the turf precisely because the radical left is divided and constantly fighting with itself, and refuses to compromise. If Howard Dean is nominated he will lose the election because the radical left will split its vote between him, the Green Party, and the plethora of other socialist vehicles. The same is true of libertarians.

    The Libertarian Party in the U.S. has no hope of gaining any power in the Federal government. Voting for it may well be an act that could be described as principled, but it is also pointless. This is partly because the LP refuses to compromise on any point, and partly because libertarians themselves are divided on some issues, especially immigration and foriegn/defense policy, as we have seen here at Samizdata recently.

    A far better strategy would be to emulate the Christian Right and colonise the Republican Party from within, at the local level first, and working to the top. This could be achieved if all libertarians put aside their differences for the time being and worked together, through an organisation like the Republican Liberty Caucus. In time the RP could be turned into a real vehicle for liberty, and then libertarians can debate their differences.

    For all its faults, I would vote Republican over the LP any day, because the RP is at least going to wield power, and , regardless of its faults, is a vastly better prospect than the Democrats.

    New Zealand, where I am currently living, is blessed with two libertarian parties,

    the Libertarianz: http://www.libertarianz.org.nz/

    and ACT: http://www.act.org.nz/.

    While I admire the Libertarianz, they have no hope of getting into Parliament, while ACT, which takes a more pragmatic approach, is in Parliament already and, when the main center right party comes to power again, will be part of the ruling coalition. New Zealand libertarians can vote on principle, and keep the left in power, or they can support and maximise the vote for ACT, and in time actually make a difference.

    Libertarians are going to have to decide sooner or later if we want purity, ro real change.