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A moment of utter clarity

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that we have long regarded the Ban on Foxhunting with Dogs as having very little to do with foxhunting.

As David Carr has pointed out before, those who shout loudly that the move against hunting is ‘undemocratic’ are completely wrong: it is perfectly democratic. Welcome to the world in which there is no give and take of civil society… welcome to the world of total politics.

Mr Bradley says: ‘We ought at last to own up to it: the struggle over the Bill was not just about animal welfare and personal freedom: it was class war.’

The MP for The Wrekin adds that it was the ‘toffs’ who declared war on Labour by resisting the ban, but agrees that both sides are battling for power, not animal welfare.

‘This was not about the politics of envy but the polities of power. Ultimately it’s about who governs Britain.’

[…]

‘Labour governments have come and gone and left little impression on the gentry. But a ban on hunting touches them. It threatens their inalienable right to do as they please on their own land. For the first time, a decision of a Parliament they don’t control has breached their wrought-iron gates.

No kidding. That is what we have been pointing out here on Samizdata.net for quite some time and why we have treated commenters who shrugged and said “why get worked up about foxhunting?” with such derision. It was never about hunting but rather things that are far, far more fundamental. It is about those who would make all things subject to democratically sanctified politics (‘Rule by Activist’) seeking to crush those who see private property and society, rather than state, as what matters.

Mr Bradley, 51, admits that he personally sees the campaign to save hunting as an assault on his right to govern as a Labour MP.

And Mr. Bradley is correct but for one thing: the battle in question is about the limits of political power and not just Labour’s political power. Until the supporter of the Countryside Alliance see that they are actually struggling against the idea of a total political state, they will not even be fighting the right war. It is not about who controls the political system but what the political system is permitted to do under anyone’s control. The United States has a system of separation of powers and constitutional governance which (at least in theory even though not in fact) places whole areas of civil society outside politics. Britain on the other hand has no such well defined system and the customary checks and balances have been all but swept away under the current regime. Britain’s ‘unwritten constitution’ has been shown to be a paper tiger.

But those who look to the Tories to save them from the class warriors of the left are missing another fundamental truth. During their time in power, the Tory Party set the very foundations upon which Blair and Blunkett are building the apparatus for totally replacing social processes with political processes, a world in which nothing cannot be compelled by law if that is what ‘The People’ want: populist authoritarianism has been here for a while but now it no longer even feels it has to hide its true face behind a mask.

Moreover it would take another blind man to look back on Michael Howard’s time as Home Secretary and see him as being less corrosive to civil liberties that the monstrous David Blunkett. Have you heard the outraged Tory opposition to the terrifying Civil Contingencies Act? Of course not, because the intellectual bankruptcy of the Tory party is now complete… for the most part they support it. If the so-called ‘Conservatives’ will not lift a finger to stop the destruction of the ancient underpinnings of British liberty, what exactly are they allegedly intending to ‘conserve’? The Tories are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem and the sooner the UKIP destroy them by making them permanently unelectable, the better, so that some sort of real opposition can fill the ideological vacuum.

Those who were marching against banning foxhunting completely miss the issues at stake here. The issue is not and never has been foxhunting but rather the acceptable limits of politics. And you cannot resolve that issue via the political system in Britain. It is only once the people who oppose the ban on foxhunting and the people who oppose the Civil Contingencies Act and the people who oppose the introduction of ID cards and data pooling all realise that these are NOT separate issues but the same issue will effective opposition be possible. And I fear that opposition will, at least until the ‘facts on the ground’ can be established, have to be via civil disobedience and other ways to make sections of this country ungovernable by whatever means prove effective. The solution does not lie in ‘democracy’ but rather by enough people across the country asserting their right to free association and non-politically mediated social interaction by refusing to obey the entirely democratic laws which come out of Westminster.

Peter Bradley is right and he has provided any who are paying attention with a moment of utter clarity: It is time to challenge his right to ‘rule’ by whatever means necessary.

65 comments to A moment of utter clarity

  • c

    I’ve forgotten that appalling law allowing ‘rambling’ (i.e. trespassing) on other people’s land without permission the Countryside Rights of Way Act.

  • Old Jack Tar

    And don’t forget that monstrous act which forces a lessor to sell properties to a lessee even though the lessee took the lease under no such agreement!

  • Rhukatah

    Kinda reminds you of this does it not:

    For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments…

  • ernest young

    We have ‘no go’ areas in our cities, now we will get them in the countryside, at least for certain political types.

    Is there any situation which politicians can’t utterly screw up, and make worse?

    Blunkett wants to delay implementation of the ‘fox hunt ban’ law, to ‘ enable the police to build an intelligence base of information on likely miscreants. – wasn’t something akin to this called the KGB in the USSR?

    A far fetched extension? maybe – but these ideas do have a way of growing in importance and consequence, today a fox hunter, tomorrow a public works protester, eventually we will have a network of ‘spies’ informing on any political dissenters.

    Weren’t even children encouraged to inform on their parents, in both Nazi Germany and Marxist Russia?

    As the great St. Louis said – “It’s a wonderful world!”

  • Pete_London

    Ernest

    Blunkett wants to delay implementation of the ‘fox hunt ban’ law, to ‘ enable the police to build an intelligence base of information on likely miscreants …

    Yep, recruit informers, all subjects of HM to inform on each other. Compile names, profiles, databases of information, all for something which still is not an illegal activity. The character of this government is now well formed. Nothing should surprise. All that seperates our liberal democracy from dictatorship is the whim of a Minister. What are the odds of acts of civil disobedience by hunters being used as a pretext for the first use of the CCA 2004?

  • Julian Taylor

    Someone who teaches English to 7-9 year olds in a state comprehensive school recently told me that the police went to her school on one of their educational visits. They lectured the children that they should be especially watchful for any criminal activity and not fail to report it, even if it was their own parents. This was reinforced with a short lecture on how it is everyone’s duty to report crime and how it can be construed as an offence NOT to report it to the police. The children were then given nice little cards listing the Crimestopper (an 0800 telephone number where people can report knowledge of a crime anonymously) and Kidsline telephone numbers (Kidsline is a BBC-sponsored line where children can report any form of abuse against them in confidence).

    So yes, we are approaching a system where children are encouraged to inform on their parents, but I would hope that we can rest safely in the knowledge that there will not be a Blunkett Jűgend until after the next election at least.

  • Julian Taylor

    Oops, left off the main reason for commenting.

    Those who were marching against banning foxhunting completely miss the issues at stake here. The issue is not and never has been foxhunting but rather the acceptable limits of politics.

    Very true, but if we had marched down Whitehall demonstrating ‘no to a Hunt ban, no to ID cards, no to jury-free closed trials of anyone suspected of intending to cause or abet terrorist offences’ people would have probably laughed their heads off at such a protest.

    By the way, has anyone else noticed that the Quote, URL etc features do not seem to work in Mozilla Firefox?

  • craggy_steve

    >> Those who were marching against banning foxhunting completely miss the issues at stake here.

    I can’t speak for most of the marchers, but for me and all the other marchers I know the issue was about banning an activity and the infringement of rights and liberties inherent in doing so, foxhunting was just the particular instance in question. If they they ban hunting then what next. The marches were explicitly about the acceptable limits of politics, to suggest that they were just about foxhunting is a little naive, foxhunting was merely the catalyst for the protest. What is most remarkable about the marches was the CA’s ability to get over 480,000 bodies to march at all given that the instance was foxhunting – I didn’t start hunting until 4 years after my CA first march, and my excuse for doing so is that the government bullied me into it by oppressing its participants.

    >> Mr Bradley, 51, admits that he personally sees the campaign to save hunting as an assault on his right to govern as a Labour MP.

    Er, pardon? Neither Mr. Bradley nor any other MP has any right to govern. He is an elected representative, a public servant, they all are, and it seems like the time has come for a disciplinary process to remind them of the fact. Preferably starting with Blunkett & Blair.

  • craggy_steve

    And for anyone who wants to know what the next front in the class struggle will be, here’s the

    New Statesman Land Reform Campaign
    .

    Remember, to a socialist it doesn’t matter what you own, it’s not yours, it’s theirs.

  • Excellent piece Perry. Possibly one of the best if not best things you have written. Democracy is not liberty, it is a stystem in opposition to liberty.

  • Would you mind elaborating on what you mean by “whatever means necessary?” I agree entirely with the thrust of this post, but that particular phrase is open to rather egregious misinterpretation.

  • Rob

    So, our question is: what are we going to do about this in practical terms? Civil disobedience is all well and good, but taking it too far simply gives the government an excuse to crack down further. Moreover, I doubt it would actually change anything; the Countryside March, like the Stop The War marches, failed to secure any change in how MPs actually voted. To most Labour MPs, it would be like a red rag to a bull.

    The problem is that most people don’t really understand how liberties work. They genuinely agree that the government should be able to exercise considerable powers, but only against “terrorists” (the definition of which is pretty loose these days).

    Given Blair’s other major innovation – the drift towards a presidential “because I say so” approach to governing – it’s not hard to see how, under the leadership of an “evil” person, Britain could become a much worse place to live. It’s still a very unlikely scenario, but the principles which have safeguarded us against tyranny for hundreds of years are being systematically removed.

    I’ve rambled on too much here – my comment/question is this: how can we take practical steps towards the repeal of this legislation? My own personal view leans towards achieving this via conventional politics, but I fully admit to being somewhat less knowledgeable (or merely less bitter, depending on your p.o.v) about the practical issues involved.

    Could we, via a combination of the legitimate means available to us, influence the course of politics in a more liberal* direction?

    * “Liberal” in the old sense of the word. I suppose I should learn to say “libertarian” instead, but it still feels a tad clumsy, especially after spending recent weeks reading various pieces of classical liberal literature.

  • but that particular phrase is open to rather egregious misinterpretation

    No, I rather doubt that. “By whatever means necessary” means exactly that: whatever is likely to work. Cast your mind back to how the Poll Tax was really overturned… all the important parts of this struggle are not going to be fought in Westminster.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Craggy_Steve makes a good point. The socialist looters have never accepted the legitimacy of private property, particularly in land. And the problem is that with such a high proportion of folk living in towns and suburbs, people tend to view the countryside as one great big park, owned by the nation, rather than a patchwork of private property.

    The Tories ought to make ownership rights as big a campaign theme as the right to self defence. The two are, of course, linked.

  • Rob asks what can be done: maybe a new party could bring the issue of authoritarianism into the public debate? UKIP has shown what a medium-sized base and a couple of million pounds can do.

    I develop the idea on my blog

  • Perry: thanks so much for this post. I now finally understand what the whole fox-hunting controversy is all about. The way it has been reported outside the UK made it seem rather ridiculous.

    Julian: scroll to the bottom of this window.

  • Moreover, I doubt it would actually change anything; the Countryside March, like the Stop The War marches, failed to secure any change in how MPs actually voted. To most Labour MPs, it would be like a red rag to a bull.

    Which was indeed the whole point of my article.

    The official political process is NOT only way to effect changes. My suggestion is to hope that there is enough disaffection to prevent the state from enforcing its writ in entire regions of the country due to civil disobedience, unless the state resorts to lengthy paramilitary policing… at which point the link between what Mr. Bradley and his ilk want and the underpinning force backed collectivism that it represents should be obvious to even the dimmest minds.

    From such realisations are truly momentous things derived.

  • JuliaM

    Craggy_Steve said “If they they ban hunting then what next. ”

    Well, shooting (pheasants) would seem to be next in their sights (excuse the pun), at least according to one of the Sunday papers.

    After that, fishing – never mind those who say “No, too many people fish, they would never upset their party base…”. This is how it starts – you disenfranchise one set of people, and it becomes much, much easier to disenfranchise another, and another, etc.

    Just take a look at the Guardian’s article today (from the art critic, no less!) at http://www.guardian.co.uk/hunt/Story/0,2763,1356685,00.html

    Nothing to do really with hunting – just a thinly veiled attack on the so called rich – “Greatest of these is George Stubbs – and his greatest painting, The Grosvenor Hunt, is a melancholy elegy for a beast brought to bay, torn apart while aristocrats sit pasty faced and watch”

    Those aristocrats, what WON’T they do….

  • stoatman

    Rob asks what can be done: maybe a new party could bring the issue of authoritarianism into the public debate? UKIP has shown what a medium-sized base and a couple of million pounds can do.

    Worth a read:

    http://www.newparty.co.uk

  • Joe

    I’m glad I live in “Jesusland,” even if I am an atheist. The NRA held the “English Example” up as a warning. You have my concern. I hope England doesn’t slide down this slope too much further before people wake up. “Tyranny of the masses” is something we were warned against in school. We were also warned about the Nazi’s using children to inform on their parents. I guess we weren’t the only ones learning that lesson. We were taught it was a bad thing though.

  • garth

    …that it represents should be obvious to even the dimmest minds.

    LOL :-D
    Now why do I get the distinct impression that you have the Tory Party’s foggy Daily Mail reading supporters in mind here?

  • Tedd McHenry

    Democracy is not liberty, it is a stystem in opposition to liberty.

    I agree completely with what you’re saying here, but I’d like to make a plea for a small but important semantic adjustment. The word democracy is very handy as a short-form of liberal democracy, the distinction being that liberal democracy gives primacy to the liberty (or the rights, depending on one’s interpretation) of the individual, and attempts to constrain government power accordingly. When I use the word democracy that is the sense in which I mean it.

    It used to be common (many years ago) to use the term “popular government” to refer specifically to the system of elected representatives and majority rule, as distinct from liberal democracy. So I would prefer to see the statement, “Popular government is not liberty, it is a stystem in opposition to liberty.” Democracy, properly formed, is explicitly in support of individual liberty, not opposed to it.

    (I realize that this point will not be convincing to anarchists of any stripe, and I’m not attempting to address that part of the issue. I’m only making a semantic point that might be of interest to minarchists.)

  • Rob

    My suggestion is to hope that there is enough disaffection to prevent the state from enforcing its writ in entire regions of the country due to civil disobedience, unless the state resorts to lengthy paramilitary policing…

    Much to my regret, I don’t think that’s much of a hope. There just isn’t a widespread base of public support for such actions. The support of the “blogging community” does not translate into support of nearly enough people to merit comparison to, say, the poll tax. We are a subset of a fairly small community to begin with; whatever our strengths are, ability to mobilise widespread support for civil disobedience is not one.

    I can just imagine the media coverage – “ultra-liberal civil liberties afficionados, whose platform includes opposition to gun controls and state health care, launched a protest against new government anti-terrorist legislation today”. How many “ordinary” people would identify themselves with such a cause? Before long someone will mention the word “anarchism” and the whole thing will be treated with condescencion and bemusement by the very people who we should be trying to convert to our opinion.

    We are intelligent, generally persuasive, technically-knowledgeable people, and we have a broadly consistent and rational point of view. If we can’t persuade people of the merits of our views without resorting to civil disobedience, there really isn’t much hope for our cause at all.

    Please understand that I do not disagree with you on the issues of substance; I merely disagree on how we can achieve our desired aim. We are beginning to see a glimmer of understanding of libertarian ideals in British politics today; fox-hunting, although not a cause I’m personally fond of, has given some people pause for thought. On the opposite side of the right-left political spectrum, Guantanamo Bay and Belmarsh have got people thinking about the powers of government, and how they should be limited. Uniting these disparate causes into a common libertarian cause is not difficult; plenty of better thinkers and writers than I have put the case for liberty before. What we have to do is educate people about the importance of liberty, and force the politicians to realise that they cannot trample on our rights in this manner.

    I believe our strength is our power of persuasion, our ability to put our views across consistently and, hopefully, in a manner that most people can understand and appreciate.

    I suspect you may see me as being naive, and I have no argument against that. But I do honestly believe that there are many – enough to make a difference – people in this country who share generally libertarian views and simply have not found a vehicle to represent these views. Whether the answer lies in a political party (something I’m dubious of) or whether there are better ways of bringing political pressure, is a question for someone with more experience of politics than me.

    Hmm, I really should get my own blog at some point, I’m forever posting essays on other people’s comments pages…

  • craggy_steve

    >> Those aristocrats, what WON’T they do….

    Fight dirty for their rights and liberty it would seem. I hope to be proven wrong, but so far the campaign has been fought fairly on one side, and rather dirtily on the other. If the supporters of hunting are the filthy rich then perhaps they should use some of their wealth on ungentlemanly black campaigning, I’m sure there are plenty of parlimentarians with stuff in their closets that they’d rather the rest of us didn’t know about. The “campaign against hunting” has been largely achieved through determined and dishonest propoganda about its proponents, and it’s worked, so perhaps it’s time to adopt similar strategies and stop behaving like gentlemen boxing to Queensbury rules.

    >> Well, shooting (pheasants) would seem to be next in their sights…

    This is publicly declared policy of the “League Against Cruel Sports” (LACS) and the RSPCA. The former is already telling some whopping lies about game rearing and people who shoot. Black propoganda is a remarkably effective tool.

    Seems to me that if we care enough the blogospere ought to be able to help. As Perry has so often said, it isn’t democratic, ergo it is also unfettered by democracy. Bloggers revealed the falseness of the Bush dishonourable discharge allegations in the recent election campaign by pointing out truths, perhaps there are other truths that need to be revealed to a wider audience?

  • Nick Timms

    A true moment of clarity and an excellent piece.

    Authoritarianism for the people and by the people. Unfortunately most of the people do not seem to be aware that what they see on telly and in their papers is a world view with strict boundaries and is influenced very heavily by people who want to tell everyone else how they should behave.

    To achieve true individual freedom in a liberal democracy the majority must accept that the flip side of individual freedom is personal responsibility for their own actions. Since hardly anyone seems prepared to accept the consequences of their own actions, and are always looking for someone to blame when things go wrong, it is going to take an enormous shift in cultural thinking before we start to see our freedoms restored.

    The New Party? Another bunch who want to tell me how to live my life.

  • ernest young

    The MP’s in the UK, seem to live rather cloistered lives, certainly as far as their constituents are concerned. They socialize with their immediate peers, but seem to have little real contact with the people they represent. A whirlwind Saturday morning hand-shaking session does not count as anything very meaningful.

    They all seem to have their little coterie of sycophants, ‘yes’ men to a man or woman, so they feel fairly safe in making unpopular (undemocratic?) laws, (and don’t they get smug and self-righteous about it?), as they are never held personally accountable. Should they have the misfortune to be confronted by one of the hoi-polloi, and be asked, even a mildly embarassing question, the standard reply would be something along the lines of ‘Have to follow the Whip, you know’.

    The weekly clinics held by some MPs, are largely conducted for the benefit of folk with grievances of a local nature, and if it gets a little publicity in what passes for a ‘local’ newspaper, so much the better.

    To be fair they hardly have much time for an exhaustive debate on euro memebership, or foxhunting, so they prefer to rely on feedback from the national media, and would rather discuss such weighty matters on a TV panel show, than in a local townhall meeting. The publicity is so much broader on a national medium…when did anyone see a local meeting, advertised as ‘A debate on the Civil Contingency Act’, (or whatever), come one come all… even if you did, I wonder how well attended it might be…

    The point is that most MP’s do not represent the constituency where they were elected, most of them are just too dumb to even bother with such things as a personal manifesto, so they are free to mentally ‘blow in the wind’. Not surprising they all follow the Party line.

    How can we have any sort of real democracy under such a system? We need a system where our representatives are able to be confronted, and are held personally responsible, for the way they vote, to the people who elected them… after all they are not in public office to voice their own opinions, but to represent the electorate.

    I think it was the Tories who, long ago, decreed that MP’s should be totally pro-active, rather than re-active, all part of their superiorty complex…it is time they were all reminded that they are only the messengers…

  • John

    One tactic that’s being used in the U.S. against the Patriot Act is the community resolution(Link). Some just say “Hell no.” others go so far as drafting ordinances forbidding local resources to be used to enforce the Patriot Act. It’s just a thought.

  • Tomasz

    “…even if 90% of the people decided to murder or enslave the other 10%, this would still be murder and slavery, and would not be voluntary suicide or enslavement on the part of the oppressed minority. Crime is crime, aggression against rights is aggression, no matter how many citizens agree to the oppression. There is nothing sacrosanct about the majority; the lynch mob, too, is the majority in its own domain.”

    – Murray Rothbard, The State

  • Tomasz

    “…even if 90% of the people decided to murder or enslave the other 10%, this would still be murder and slavery, and would not be voluntary suicide or enslavement on the part of the oppressed minority. Crime is crime, aggression against rights is aggression, no matter how many citizens agree to the oppression. There is nothing sacrosanct about the majority; the lynch mob, too, is the majority in its own domain.”

    – Murray Rothbard, The State

  • Euan Gray

    How can we have any sort of real democracy under such a system?

    How about term limits to prevent professional politicians, prohibiting lawyers from standing for parliament, a defined impeachment procedure for elected representatives, a constitutional bar on group rights and reinforcing the legal primacy of Magna Carta & the Bill of Rights?

    Restricting the franchise to citizens of good character, over 21 and in paid employment would probably also help, but is doubtless insufficiently democratic or ‘inclusive.’

    EG

  • The “new party” doesn’t seem noticeably pro-freedom.

    more …

  • Albion

    Much to my regret, I don’t think that’s much of a hope. There just isn’t a widespread base of public support for such actions.

    There does not have to be ‘widespread support’ for such actions, just significant local support. The object is not to win votes, to hell with the majority in fact, but to intimidate the political class with a mixture of tactical violence and strategic non-cooperation with the aim of undermining both their legitimacy and willingness to take hard political decisions by imposing ever higher costs on them. It is simply not true that “most” people’s support is needed if a strong activist minority is willing to be bloody minded and uncompromising enough. When it comes to activist direct action, think “Sinn Fein” as the model… a hardcore minority within a minority, yet able to face off against the vastly ‘stronger’ British government for decades: far from being defeated, they are now in government.

  • ernest young

    We are intelligent, generally persuasive, technically-knowledgeable people, and we have a broadly consistent and rational point of view. If we can’t persuade people of the merits of our views without resorting to civil disobedience, then…

    Rob, I very much doubt that more than 30% of the population would meet your specification. As for your other assertion;

    I believe our strength is our power of persuasion, our ability to put our views across consistently and, hopefully, in a manner that most people can understand and appreciate.

    Do you really know the sort of people you will be ‘appealing’ to?

    They are the other 70%, who are either, – the beneficiaries of the system, – (the unwashed masses), or those who ‘work’ for the system, – (the Bovine Jobsworths), or those who ‘manage’ it, – (those whose level of education and intellect has yet to reach that of a street trader in Calcutta), and of course those whose idea it all was in the first place, – (those who are doomed to repeat a thrice failed experiment).

    Just how do you propose to appeal to their better natures?….

    Forget the powers of persausion, the people you describe, (the 30%), are the only ones left who have the smallest chance of achieving or saving anything from the current mess. By all means express your views clearly, but don’t forget to express your anger just as clearly, the opposition thinks you are just another pussy cat, to be stroked and sent on your way. As for their appreciation of your viewpoint – forget it, they have been giving you the finger for years.

    The 30% – ‘The good guys’, are the ones who provide all of the innovation, the hard work, and the perception, that keeps this whole sorry mess afloat, albeit, unwillingly.

    So don’t dismiss a little bit of civil disobedience, done in the right place, at the right time, it could have a big effect…

  • Perry wrote:

    The Tories are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem and the sooner the UKIP destroy them by making them permanently unelectable, the better, so that some sort of real opposition can fill the ideological vacuum.

    My fear though, is that the Tories will be destroyed, but that there will come no true opposition, as the Liberal Democrats (who are more dangerous than Nu Labour and Blunket could ever be) will come to the fore front, and cause massive damage to the United Kingdom.

    I hope and pray that this will not happen, but it is my deep fear that the majority of the British are unfortunately sheep and are taken in by the wolves who pretend to be the nice friendly and protective sheep dogs.

  • Excitable

    My fear though, is that the Tories will be destroyed, but that there will come no true opposition, as the Liberal Democrats (who are more dangerous than Nu Labour and Blunket could ever be) will come to the fore front, and cause massive damage to the United Kingdom.

    Plausible to be sure, but the damage is already being done and so it is not like there are any real choices to be made. I completely agree with the main article like no other I have read for a long time and the sooner the irrelevent idea-free Tories are out of the way, the sooner the process of something better emerging can begin.

  • Bernie

    Terrific piece Perry. One of the best I’ve read here in the last year.

  • Chris Goodman

    “[T]he intellectual bankruptcy of the Tory Party”

    “The sooner the UKIP destroy them…the better”

    “It is time to challenge…by any means necessary”

    The first statement is false, the second deluded, and the third sounds like the ravings of an ex-Marxist.

  • Chris Goodman

    I take the “ex-Marxist” bit back I was thinking of David Carr.

    As for “Albion” postulating Sinn Fein as a model for Libertarian direct action, you sir are stupid beyond words.

  • Robert Schwartz

    Excellent Post. As a colonial my only contribution can be to point out that our Founding Fathers thought through these problems in some detail and recorded their thoughts in many essays, the best known of which are the Federalist papers, which discuss our constitution and its structure with intimacy and precision. They are quite clear on the superiority of a republic over a democracy. The Federalist is an unfailing source of instruction on these subjects.

    The most accute observer of life in these colonies was a young Frenchman who visited here almost two centuries ago and who brooded deeply on the conflict between liberty and democracy. Professor Mansfield has published a new translation of DeTocquville’s immortal work.

    The odious frog Chirac asked PM Blair what Britian can excpect from the United States in return for its support of the Iraq war. I do not know what we should do for Blair, but we will send Lawyers, Guns and Money to support or British brethren in their hour of need.

  • One tactic that’s being used in the U.S. against the Patriot Act is the community resolution(Link).

    Those are usually enacted by left to far-left city councils. Things like that start in Berkeley and work their way to slightly less loony places.

    As for “rambling”, in California there’s a law – I think it’s state not federal – where someone who is given permission to enter on private property for recreation purposes automatically disclaims liability in case of injury. That lets some private property owners let people onto their property to hike or climb without fearing law suits. No doubt there are restrictions, but that’s an alternative to the rambling law.

    As far as “liberty” is concerned, I’d suggest… Howard Dean. Start a “campaign” of sorts. Spread word by email, hold house parties, get people to sign petitions, get people to print out and distribute educational flyers, etc. etc.

  • Julian Morrison

    Rob: the hunters themselves don’t mass enough public support to do much with civil disobedience. But, they quite possibly can swing a big enough club to panic Blunkett into obvious repression – which does have the ability to move mass public opinion.

    In their “civil disobedience” the pro-hunters need to follow the example of Robin Hood: they have to annoy the elite whilst staying popular with the peasants. Hard, but do-able.

  • craggy_steve

    >> The first statement is false

    How? Read Conservative Beliefs and then answer the following:

    How will Personal Freedom be increased, will a civil service recuitment freeze achieve this? No

    How will Choice be increased, will the state return Health and Education to the private sector, or does choice merely mean the right to select which state-owned indoctrination centre will brainwash your children?

    How will Safety be achieved, will we regain the right to defend ourselves against intruders and be given the benefit of the doubt when poor intruder gets hurt? No. Will the law making us liable for the suffering of an intruder who has an accident when entering our premises be repealed? No.

    One could go on and on. Where are the Tories on the repeal of the CCB? Nowhere.

    They may be marginally better than Labour, but fundamentally (to my regret) the Tories are all puff and no blow. They spout the same old words without the will or commitment to enact their meaning. They have no new ideas, no new vision to resolve the mess that we are in, they are as accused, intellectually bankrupt. All spent & used up. They are part of the system and part of the problem, it is not suprising that they can’t see how to fix it.

  • Staffordshire Knot

    Chris Goodman is strong on bald statement but weak on arguments. This former Tory would love to hear what are the party’s bold ideas, maybe I just missed them somehow. I would be the first to return to the flock if there were any but that is not the case.

    And the UKIP, for whom I will be voting for the first time, does indeed have the ability to destroy the Tory party, a process I am now a part of: they do not need to replace it, just make it perminantly unelectable, and that is far from an unlikely scenario, so no delusions there, mate.

  • Julian Taylor

    I would have no problem voting for UKIP provided they would actually draft a manifesto beyond the “Britain out of Europe … err … that’s it” standard that they have at present, or, quoting their own manifesto summary,

    The UK Independence Party does not prescribe detailed policies in all areas. That will be the job of our elected UK government, which will be free to make laws that are in the interests of British voters once Britain is independent from the EU. But we do have clear views of the sort of independent Britain we want, with accountable, honest government at both national and local levels. We want government that earns respect, not contempt and suspicion.

    Personally, I think I’d prefer to know their manifesto before a general election, rather than in retrospect, but I agree with Perry that neither the Conservative Party nor the appalling National Socialist Liberal ‘Democratic’ Party are fit to govern the UK or, indeed, stand in opposition to Labour. Maybe the best we can hope for is a true New Labour party run by Gordon Brown?

  • Might I suggest that all of you that live in the UK show your solidarity with hunters and join your local hunt? Its time for people who believe in freedom to take action. Standing with the oppressed country-side is a great way to start.

  • ernest young

    CG, So you disagree with the statement;

    “[T]he intellectual bankruptcy of the Tory Party”

    Wrong nuance perhaps?

    Not so much bankruptcy, more like corruption, as in the following dictionary definitions;

    “Lack of integrity or honesty; esp susceptibility to bribery; use of a position of trust for dishonest gain.”

    “In a state of progressive putrefaction.”

    “Moral perversion; impairment of virtue and moral principles.”

    The second statement is no more delusional than pretending that the Torys are an effective opposition.

  • Pete_London

    Julian:

    Maybe the best we can hope for is a true New Labour party run by Gordon Brown?

    Eh? You are joking, I hope.

    AID:

    Might I suggest that all of you that live in the UK show your solidarity with hunters and join your local hunt?

    All done last week. I’ve never hunted have actually sat on a horse just once. But I can do what I can do. I have my faculties and a car and will put them to use helping hunters and obstructing the police. My contribution will be modest in the overall picture but we do all have to chip in and contribute.

  • Julian says he ‘would have no problem voting for UKIP provided they would actually draft a manifesto beyond the “Britain out of Europe … err … that’s it” standard that they have at present’

    I really don’t understand this point of view. UKIP are not going to form a majority in the next general election. Voting for them is a way of indicating that EU withdrawl is an issue that can win your vote. Given this, adding other policies just weakens your message. If UKIP gets a 10% vote, you want everyone to know that that 10% was motivated by views on Europe, not on public transport or policing or some other issue.

    In fact, under pressure from people like Julian, UKIP does have a full manifesto, which in my view is a great shame: I much preferred the ancient one he quoted.

  • Chris Goodman

    I am not here in the comments section of a blog going to attempt to supply an account of the philosophy of the Conservative Party, but here is a quote from Edmund Burke (1795)

    “It is one of the finest problems in legislation, and what has often engaged my thoughts whilst I followed that profession ‘What the state ought to take upon itself to direct the public wisdom and what it ought to leave, with as little interference as possible, to individual discretion.’ Nothing, certainly, can be laid down on the subject that will not admit of exceptions, many permanent, some occasional. But the clearest line of distinction, which I could draw, whilst I had my chalk to draw any line, was this; that the state ought to confine itself…to everything that is truly and properly public, to the public peace, to the public safety, to the public order, to the public prosperity…They ought to know the different departments of things; what belongs to laws, and what manners alone can regulate. To these, great politicians may give a leaning, but they cannot give a law…[T]he leading vice of the French monarchy…was…a restless desire of governing too much. The hand of authority was seen in everything, and in every place. All, therefore, that happened amiss in the course even of domestic affairs, was attributed to the government; and as it always happens in odious power, ended always, I may say without exception, in contemptible imbecility.”

    This statement contains various beliefs that have been fused into the creed of the British Conservative Party. The belief (contra Anarchism) that the State does have an important role to play. The belief (contra Socialism) that there ought to be a Civil Society. The belief (contra Constitutionalism) that we ought not fix demarcation lines between the State and Civil Society because what is sensible depends upon circumstance.

    For Burke a free society is not morally neutral, it is a community dedicated to certain belief, not least the belief that the State does not have a monopoly of wisdom and therefore ought not have a monopoly of power. You can disagree with this philosophy. You may think it gives too much emphasis to the State. You may think it gives too little emphasis to the State. If you are an American you may find it is too respectful of tradition, too respectful of established authority. If you are a European you may find it gives too much credence to the notion that there are such things as objective values – including moral values – as opposed to the radical claim that we are self-created. You may think the interpretation the Conservative Party is currently placing upon this philosophy is leading to the wrong policies, or its Members of Parliament are failing in their duties to challenge the Left, or that its party members are so complacent they are not responding to current circumstances; but that is not the same thing as saying that the philosophy upon which the Conservative Party is built is intellectually bankrupt.

    As for the UKIP a vote for them in a General Election will serve only to split the votes of those who oppose the Left i.e. the advocates of the unlimited State and the opponents of Civil Society. You may see Gordon Brown as a tireless defender of limited government, and individual freedom, but if you do then you….well supply your own epithet.

    ER you suggest that Conservative MP’s are morally corrupt. I admit this is a line of argument that makes more sense to me – i.e. they may not be as morally corrupt as most Labour Party MP’s [who in turn are not as morally corrupt as most Western European politicians, who are not as morally corrupt as most Eastern European politicians, who are not as morally corrupt as most African politicians] but it is a matter of degree, and so we should instead vote for a party that does not believe in voting themselves more power and perks. This of course was the argument that was used in late Republican Rome, and the solution, as we all know, was rule by a single emperor (or a Simon de Montfort or a Cromwell or a Lenin or Mao)

    Emperor Ernst perhaps?

  • Chris Goodman

    EY not ER! I am already getting you confused with the monarch ;-)

  • Chris: all well and good as a historical statement but like so many other former Tories here, I turned my back on the Tory party because it turned its back on the imperfect but remarkable Maggie Thatcher.

    The belief (contra Socialism) that there ought to be a Civil Society.

    The ‘Conservatives’ circa 2004 do not infact believe this. They say they believe this yet recent history tells another story, a story of endless intervention and regulation, a belief in state not society. The post-Thatcher Tories are really scarely less regulatory statist than the post-Thatcher Labour Party.

    If they were actually promoting policies that did not negate civil society and abridge civil liberties, then I would have no hesitation stating they were vastly preferable to Labour and I might even hild my nose and vote for them. Yet that is not the case…

    The Tory Party of Burke or Churchill or Thatcher was not intellectually barnkrupt (that said, I am really no fan of Burkean or Chirchillian Conservatism) but that is not the Conservatism of today. British Conservatism today is little more than Labour-Lite and I really look forward to you explaining how Michael Howard was far safer with Britain’s ancient liberties than the evil David Blunkett.

  • Old Jack Tar

    Damn, you beat me to it! The Conservative Party Goodman describes bears no relation to the reality of the Conservative Party I now see (and was once an active member of). Yes, I too shall be (sadly) voting UKIP.

  • Richard Cook

    It looks like the old series “The Prisoner” will come true in England. Patrick McGoohan was prophetic.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Bradley ended his article by saying he wanted “land reform”.

    This “land reform” (i.e. land theft) is already on the way in Labour Scotland.

    Mr Bradley is not just as “Labour M.P.” he is a member of the government – the assistant to the leading Cabinet Minister Alan Milburn (spelling).

    This Cabinet Minister is supposed to be very close to Mr Blair and “New Labour” and an enemy of Mr Brown, who is supposed to be more “old Labour”.

    Watching this is like observing the various factions of French revolutionaries (the factions that historians waste so much ink writing about). Edmund Burke was right, the basic fact about the factions is that they are all bad.

  • ernest young

    CG,

    I think we are agreed that there should be a degree of ‘proactivity’ from our elected representatives, but just how much, and when, should it be encouraged? Used too often, and as you say, the State is seen as too interferring, too little, and the cry is that ‘they’ do nothing. There are some who say that the best Government is the one that does the least…but that is another argument.

    While in matters of State, security, diplomacy, etc. the ordinary citizen should give credence to the elected Parliament, after all, they are, or should be ‘the Professionals’, and are privy to much information not available generally. Such a time would be appropriate for proactivity, that is when politicians become ‘Leaders’. Certainly a time to follow the Whip.

    It is in the everyday running of society that our elected officials should be more reactive, and should at least convey the thoughts of their constituents to the Leadership, that way more people may feel it is worthwhile voting and generally taking an interest in politics.

    The Tory party is seen to be largely in favour of most of Labour’s ideas, and yes, they do seem to be very complacent and non-confrontational, certainly very ‘out-of-touch’ with most contra-socialists, (great name that, so much better than minarchist, etc.). Not having much feed back from local constituencies, they seem not to have moved on from the Heath years, that era of smug, pompous self-satisfaction.

    That time seems to have been when proactivity morphed into the idea that ‘the Government’ knows best, and more decisions and legislation were enacted without a general consensus, that Labour has extended this even further, has led to a general apathy and a feeling of disenfranchisment, and, as you mention, an even more divisive and corrupt Government.

    That a Civil Society, with emphasis on democracy, and the idea that we so we should vote for a party that does not believe in voting themselves more power and perks leads to a Republican State, really is a red herring. The result would be far different from the dictatorships that you mentioned.

    That the Tories are Labour-lite is beyond doubt….more a reserve team for Labour, than a replacement squad…

    I am flattered that you suggest nominating me for Emperor, sadly I have to decline, as I really have more important matters to attend to, and I think I may have a problem in finding a Second for the nomination… :-)

  • It is in the everyday running of society that our elected officials should be more reactive

    I disagree… when it comes to keeping the barbarians from the gate, our elected officials should be more reactive, when it comes to the running of everyday society, they should stay the hell away. Society does not need to be ‘run’ by the state, thank you very much, society does that just fine itself with both customary and emergent rules and contracts.

  • Chris Goodman

    We live in curious times. The Left are hysterical but discredited. Those that oppose the Left are a majority but (in Europe) very quiet. Let me draw up a non-left 24 point manifesto.

    1) Reduce taxation – say to a rate of 10%.
    2) Abolish every Civil Service department – except for defence and law and order.
    3) Reduce the number of MP’s – and have no new laws for 10 years.
    4) Abolish local government – except for voluntary elected local councillors
    5) Privatise all local services from libraries, to Public Records, to the Post Office.
    6) Abolish the Arts Council.
    7) Withdraw from the European Union
    8) Abolish the BBC
    9) Withdraw from the UN
    10) Gradually phase out all State benefits.
    11) Privatize the education system
    12) Abolish the Foreign Office
    13) Reduce the number of laws – especially employment laws and laws to do with sexual behaviour – and instead uphold the Common Law procedures for settling disputes.
    14) Abolish most taxes e.g. alcohol, inheritance tax, smoking.
    15) Privatise the health system.
    16) Abolish all International Aid
    17) Let people apply to hire a hit man if they want to commit suicide.
    18) Abolish all Agricultural subsidies.
    19) With the money raised from taxation give charitable grants to those in exceptional need.
    20) Abolish the Department of Trade and Industry.
    21) With the money raised from taxation give education vouchers to children.
    22) Abolish the Cabinet Office
    23) With money raised from taxation give charitable grants to those with special medical needs.
    24) The amount spent by the government must not exceed the amount raised from taxation.

    I am not serious of course, but I wish people would ask questions about the system we live in instead of just accepting Statist propaganda. I think it would bring liberal politics to life.

    OK. I am meant to be replying about Michael Howard. But I do not know enough about what he did as Home Secretary to answer. So I am presenting an alternative manifesto instead. Would it get him elected?

  • ernest young

    C.G,

    Now you are talking…..:-)

    Now that you have opened Pandora’s Box, – just why does your list not represent a viable basis for, at least a manifeto, if not for a Government?

    Your list makes more sense than the present system, and certainly would find a lot of ‘grass roots’ support. Mind you, it would no doubt raise a few sneery remarks from the cogniscenti…..

    P.dH,

    Local officials, – and lets face it, – we are never going to get rid of them totally, would provide a service delivering the local feeling to the hierarchy, plus being more in contact with the hoi-polloi may make them a little more thoughtful and circumspect . Fear of a verbal or real slapping, really concentrates the mind….:-)

  • Pete_London

    Chris Goodman

    Would it get him elected?

    BWAHAHAHHAHA … not a chance. Forget the merit of any such manifesto; it simply wouldn’t be debated. The moment everyone realised Howard proposed the privatisation of the People’s Health Service and the removal of their welfare crack they’d knock that one straight on the head. I’m looking forward to the day Blair uses the CCA to postpone the next General Election; people will only demand the removal of the State’s power when it is used against them in an overwhelming manner.

  • ID CARDS
    Yesterday the Queen gave her speech to Parliament, written by and on behalf of “Her Government” and I have to admit to feeling slightly sorry for the old dear being forced to spout such consummate nonsense. Tony Blair and his boss David Blunkett have clearly decided that their chances of winning the next election are none too solid, so rather than coming up with yet more implausible ideas to woo the electorate, they opted for the “keep the rift raff quaking in their hovels” approach.

    One of the major initiatives is that we are to have non compulsory ID cards to combat terrorism and avoid Social Security fraud. What they didn’t say was that the two things are completely linked because, as carrying them is not to be mandatory, the only way we will catch Messrs Bin Laden and Co will be if they try to claim an old age pension or housing benefit. I strongly suspect that even an intellectually challenged chap with a sack full of cemtex would be capable of avoiding this obvious pitfall.

    The question then arises as to what is the real reason for this proposal. The charitable explanation is that Blunkett is just trying to instil fear in the general population on the basis that it proved effective with our cousins across the water. Worryingly, it is far more likely that it is just another step our creeping transformation to Kim Jong Il style police state.

    Many years ago I was approached by a drunk in a bar in Portugal. All he said, was that he hailed from Sheffield, and he had a local Councillor that I should keep an eye on, because he was “the most dangerous bastard in England”. I remembered the name but it was a long time before David Blunkett actually surfaced on the national scene. Some times it pays to listen to drunks.

  • Pete_London

    I’ve set up a meeting with my (Tory) MP for 4 December to discuss the CCA. Yep, its law already but a chat without an audience and alcohol in the way will be a change. If anyone would like a particular message delivered I’m happy to do so. Also, unless anyone objects I’ll print these discussions and give him something to read.

  • Pete_London

    Whoops, wrong thread.

  • Julian Morrison

    Link to encouraging rant by the UKIP leader. They seem to be genuine minarchists, which might even be enough to get my vote. Normally I consider voting immoral, force by proxy. But I think voting for a party who would scrap whole layers of government and reactivate the “common law” might be worth taking on that moral debt.

    BTW, I do think UKIP could destroy the Tories. They will not only poach the semi-libertarians who held their noses and voted Conseravtive, they’ll actually spread these ideas and create new libertarians where previously there were none.

  • Andrew Milner

    So what are these dogs used to hunt foxes? They are, by definition, foxhounds. Sense there’s a clue here. Can’t say I’ve heard the term “foxdogs”. Hunting with dogs, make that hounds, townies. Semantics, semantics.