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Sean Gabb stuns the Young Conservatives

I recommend this, a speech given by Sean Gabb on Monday night to the Young Conservatives. Said he: close down the BBC, the Foreign Office, much of the Home Office, the Commission for Racial Equality, anything to do with health and safety, etc. etc. Quote:

Let me emphasise that the purpose of these cuts would not be to save money for the taxpayers or lift an immense weight of bureaucracy from their backs – though they would do this. The purpose is to destroy the Establishment before it can destroy you. You must tear up the web of power and personal connections that make these people effective as an opposition to radical change. If you do this, you will face no more clamour than if you moved slowly and half-heartedly. Again, I remember the campaign against the Thatcher “cuts”. There were no cuts, except in the rate of growth of state spending. You would never have thought this from the the torrent of protests that rolled in from the Establishment and its clients. And so my advice is to go ahead and make real cuts – and be prepared to set the police on anyone who dares riot against you.

As a libertarian myself, I have long resisted the idea of class warfare. I hate the collectivism of such notions. I mean, I have friends, including libertarian friends, who work for the BBC. (I also have a relative in a rather interesting position in the BBC, I have recently learned. You meet all sorts at family funerals. He thought of the BBC iPlayer, or so I’ve been told.) But, on the other hand, if a Gabbite government ever did materialise in Britain quickly enough for me to witness it, I would not object very strenuously.

But whatever I may feel about this extraordinary event, it certainly was an event. Why, even Instapundit noticed it, or rather he noticed the Volokh Conspiracy noticing it, which is how I noticed it this morning.

What would be really good would be if the lefties picked up on it and said: “This is what those evil Conservatives really want to do!”, and if Sean then repeated it all to something more like a truly national audience, adding “if only”. Or, if truly national pundits start linking to the thing, which amounts to the same thing. Even better would be if the opinion pollsters start asking the actual voters, the actual people, how they feel about Gabbism, and if quite a lot of them say: sounds good to us.

Because, equally interesting, and from a libertarian point of view just as controversial, is what Sean says about state schools and state hospitals and state welfare:

Following from this, however, I advise you to leave large areas of the welfare state alone. It is regrettable, but most people in this country do like the idea of healthcare free at the point of use, and of free education, and of pensions and unemployment benefit. These must go in the long term. But they must be retained in the short term to maintain electoral support.

None of this is new to me. I am sure I could dig out earlier Free Life Commentaries in which all this is said. In fact, come to think of it, Sean wrote a book about all this, didn’t he? Yes he did. But this time, he said it to a politically quite interesting audience.

I am not going to stop opposing government spending on schools and hospitals and welfare merely to suit Sean Gabb’s suggested strategy for the Conservatives. But, I do love how Sean (I assume it’s Sean) describes this speech (here) as having been greeted with “a combination of silence and faint applause”. Springtime for Gabb has come early this year. Or, to switch to another showbiz comparison, it must have been a bit like this, that Michael Jennings linked to from here earlier today.

Is there perhaps some kind of Law of Speeches to the effect that all truly significant speeches are greeted thus, and that only speeches saying absolutely nothing of interest get standing ovations? It would make sense.

40 comments to Sean Gabb stuns the Young Conservatives

  • Pierre Glendinning

    Thank you for bringing this speech to my attention.

    If I’d have been there I’d have stood up and cheered.

    This deserves a much, much larger audience. It needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

    It also needs one person in the Tory party to stand up and have the balls to at least agree with it in principle, if not in actuality the smashing of the state, then certainly in rolling it back.

    The response this speech apparently garnered from the crop of young “right wing” politicians makes me weep for the future of this country. We are doomed. They have been hypnotized by the statist establishment.

    Where’d you reckon the best place to emigrate to is? Last person to leave the country switch the lights out, and all that.

  • Fascinating stuff. Even more interesting are the comments (and Gabb’s responses). They show an almost complete lack of knowledge of libertarian thought. It is interesting, and perhaps helpful, to (re-)read Hayek’s essay Why I am not a conservative, and perhaps also Rothbard’s Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty (1965).

  • guy herbert

    Sean’s most interesting suggestion along these lines is that one should destroy the files of those bureaucratic institutions one uproots. I think this is good, but less good than opening them so you can track the roots of departmental policy, and wiping away the convention that a new government may not see the papers of the previous one. If one removes some of tha the power of departments and quangos over elected politicians, then the governmentailist ethos is greatly weakened.

  • Nuke Gray!

    Sean stunned them? They let him carry and use a stun-gun? Isn’t that illegal?
    It’s certainly unethical! He knew they were conservatives before he went there- but they had no defence against him! Shame on you, Sean!

  • Andrei

    I have to say, I’m not sure those tactics will work. In fact, I’m not wholly sold on the idea of a libertarian party either. Afterall, just like the guy says, we’ll have to ‘keep’ the welfare state intact for the ‘time being’.

    Wanna bet that ‘time being’ becomes never?

    A libertarian party may very well be an exercise in futility as one would have to hide or water down their principles — therefore — compromising the whole point of being a libertarian. Plus, what if all the work done in one or two terms is undone by proceeding governments?

    A sustained education campaign in schools and universities and family units (etc…) have a better chance of changing people’s mindsets towards libertarian ideals, I’d say. Then governmental change can follow.

    The Conservatives may be a useful substitute until then.

  • the last toryboy

    I like the bit at the end. Some woman started ranting that he is a fascist?

    No dearie, the fascists are the ones currently in power who Gabb wants to destroy,

  • SMASSEY

    State “free” education is just as bad, if not worse, than the BBC, in terms of forming a pro-state cultural feedback loop.

  • Gabriel

    I’m not sure a Gabbian revolution would work, but I’m sold on it for two reasons:
    a) nor will anything else
    b) it would be f**king fun.

  • Bendle

    I’m someone who Marc (above) describes as having a complete lack of knowledge of Libertarian thought. I’m just interested in it, and I have a question. I take it that some posters would like to get rid of the welfare state and national health service altogether. I understand the thinking behind that. My question is, what do you do about a poor, 18-year-old woman with parents who cannot support her financially, who gets pregnant and is deserted by the father? Obviously I know that she shouldn’t have sex in such circumstances, but the fact is people always have done and always will. Libertarians, with their emphasis on the actualities of human nature, must recognise that.

    Please note I am not trying to make some sort of debating club point here, so please don’t just shout me down. If this seems a plodding point to you please ignore me.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Bendle, you ask a fair question and it deserves a fair answer. First of all, libertarians would argue that without a Welfare State, philanthropy and mutual aid organisations would make up the difference. What tends also to be forgotten as that before the NHS was founded, for example, private doctors would frequently treat some of their poorest clients for free.

    The issue here is not that there are not poor people who fall down on their luck and need help. That is taken as given. The problem is that when health or whatever is treated as a “right”. You cannot have a “right” to something if that means someone else has to be coerced into providing it. A good way to put this issue is to realise that if we have a right to healthcare, say, then someone else must be forced to become a doctor to treat them.

  • He says much that is right and good, but the comments demonstrate that there is no hope of doing what he suggests from within the current politcal system. The entire edifice must be torn down, reimagined and remade. The only way to win this game is to tear up the rulebook.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I recommend the whole speech. Sean has written at greater length on this. He shares the Gramiscian insight that the institutions that govern much of our lives are now in the hands of “the enemy class”.

    Talking of class issues, where is Ian B these days?

  • I cannot disagree with Sean Gabb in his identification of a statist bias of the current Establishment.

    However, firstly, I am not convinced that the problem is as serious as he makes it out to be.

    Retired senior government and military people have spoken out with statements of their beliefs, as to appropriate government, when no longer inhibited by their own self-interest in rising up the slippery pole or staying near its peak. Personally, though I find it almost impossible for myself, I cannot hold this common human behaviour against such people. It is far better that they speak later, and with the full authority of their experience in government, military and/or administration, than that they do not speak at all.

    Secondly, I am very strongly of the view that a clean sweep of the Establishment is not only not a good move, but is seriously a bad move – likely to have an adverse effect on the wellbeing of all of us here in the UK.

    Take the example of the recent military conquest of Iraq and the exclusion from public office of all Ba’athist Party members. This led to the collapse of Iraqi infrastructure: electricity and other public utilities stopped working; local law enforcement collapsed. Is it not now well recognised that this was a critical mistake. Compare this with the example of the post-WW2 actions in previously Nazi Germany.

    It must surely be accepted that, over a long period, many government employees will fit in with the political direction that they receive; in fact it is their duty to do so! However, the extent to which they are political enthusiasts is open to serious doubt; they are more likely to be mere enthusiasts for personal advancement.

    As to solutions, if the next government decides that the state sector is too large, then cutting it back will almost certainly, of itself, weed out many of those government employees who are most inappropriately statist in outlook. If the next government decides otherwise, that is a far bigger problem than the perceived personal political views of government employees, whether they are formed through firm belief or are possibly an interpretation of their doing their job properly.

    The educational establishment might be something of a different case. However, much would be improved by reducing the proportion of ‘education’ in media studies, sociology, etc and increasing the proportion in science, engineering and technology (including both academic and vocational aspects) and the serious study of the humanities (geography, history, economics, etc). It would, of course, help if a much greater proportion of educational establishments were independent of government, and were the welfare aspect of education provided through a voucher scheme.

    Interestingly, in Sean Gabb’s enumeration of previous incidents of the Establishment being politically biased against a recently elected government, he signally fails to mention the government of Margaret Thatcher. Nor does he mention what is probably the most significant step she took to circumvent that: the appointment of Willie Whitelaw (an establishment man to his core) as one of her leading advisors.

    What he does mention is her ‘success’ against the GLC. It is, in my view, just about the greatest mistake made by the Thatcher government: to castrate local government. What it actually led to was the transfer of local government power to central government. This, of itself, is no change in the extent of government versus the extent of the private sector. Nor, as Dr Gabb points out, is a change in the power of the Establishment; it is more of an internal Establishment dispute. However, it is clear to me that such greater centralisation reduces flexibility and so, over time, increases inefficiency. Dr Gabb attributes this action as an attack on the then Establishment by Mrs Thatcher’s government; however, I doubt it was any such thing. It was moving government from Labour control to Conservative control: a power grab. It has, of course (and clearly predictably), backfired: now much Conservative local government is itself castrated by Labour central government. Thus Thatcher’s actions against local government cannot (logically at least) have been part of a long-term grand plan to protect us from a socialist-biased establishment. It was different in motivation from many other actions of her government, which did reduce the size of the state sector (relative to GDP).

    Concerning Sean Gabb’s view that the welfare state (NHS, social security and state schools) should be left alone, given his overall case and his overall libertarian philosophy, this is weird. But, as he points out, it would be politically expedient – a Conservative Party that put out now a manifesto to dismantle the welfare state would be taking an imprudent risk with its excellent electoral chances. Far better to win, establish a good track record and then look to a second-term manifesto proposing splitting the welfare state in half: financing through taxation and vouchers (at some modest-only level for all), with operation through the private sector (eg privately run schools and hospitals).

    However, what Dr Gabb proposes is far less expected, to say nothing of being foolish, than the above quite sensible changes to the welfare state. For better or worse, the BBC (even in its current over-extended and biased form) is more loved that the NHS, especially among the Conservative party’s core supporters. This will not change, though the BBC must.

    As for closing down the Foreign Office and the Home Office, what is this? Foreign policy and provision of law and order (largely what the Home Office does) are, along with national defence, the main and unavoidable responsibilities of national government. Change them: yes. Do away with them: moonbat!

    The lack of welcome that the speech received strikes me as hardly surprising. It was launched by criticising the current Conservative Party leadership and took what would surely be viewed, in that forum, as a rather arrogant stance. I see good reason to doubt that the cool reception given was only influenced by the basic political message, barmy though that was.

    Returning to the main theme, although there most certainly is an inertia within the Civil Service and other government organisations, cutting off the head and markedly reducing government expenditure (as a proportion of GDP) will, within 2 or 3 years in my view, achieve any necessary redirection of staff commitment.

    Best regards

  • Much though it pains me to say…

    I’m with Gabriel on this one. Nice one sir! First laugh of the day.

    JP, Yeah where the fuck is the gay hobbit porn-monger? I hope he’s OK.

    I think Gabbianism might just work…

  • Bod

    Ian B’s been sighted at the LA site and I saw some stuff penned by (presumably him) at a number of sites where I (in my ignorance) wouldn’t have expected to see him at.

    I think he’s OK. Colloquially speaking, inasmuch as any porno-mongering hobbit fetishist can ‘OK.’ :)

  • So why has he not been enumerating felines recently?

    I kinda liked him passing by and giving some us some hot Samwise action.

    I hope me and the Kitty Kounter didn’t offend the hobbit pr0n-monger. Although, to be fair our site only exists to offend. Well, Cats attempts to raise the tone a little but as far as I’m concerned the internet only exists to call piss-buglers arse trumpets.

  • Gabriel

    Nigel Sedgwick, the speech is basically a condensed version of this seminal (hopefully) essay by Gabb where, I’m afraid, he pre-empts much of what you say in that comment, specifically the ommissions you point out.

    One problem. I’ve never quite managed to get to the bottom of whether Sean Gabb used to be a payed apologist for the Sudanese regime, specifically involved in smearing John Garang. Though his brand of conservo-Libertarianism is, in many ways, more my cup of tea than the Reason-magazine, techno-progressive Libertarianism that Samizdata inclines to, I’m not sure I can really forgive that.

  • Gabriel

    P.S. Similarly, I was a hold-out on Ron Paul despite having a view of cultural politics, abortion, gay-marriage and the like more similar to his than Samizdata does because the balance of evidence seems to sugggest that he’s a hate-filled crankish maniac.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Gabriel, for what it is worth I find Sean’s involvement, however marginal, as a PR for the Sudanese government to be extraordinary and indefensible. He’s never quite given me a proper explanation for why. It is not as if he desperately needed the money.

    It may interest you to know that I like to synthesise both the “technical-progressive” bits of libertarianism and some older, more classical elements from the Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment and of course, the great WE Gladstone, John Bright and William Cobden.

  • Gabriel

    Coben sought to systematically undermine British foreign policy out of some bizarre desire to see the Tsar dominate Europe, Bright trained Joseph Chaimberlain thus landing Britain with the most malignant political family since the Borgias and Gladstone sold out the Church because of some demented Tractarian spite operating in his fanatical imagination.

    Personally, I find my political forebears in semi-literate 18th century Tory gentlemen.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Coben sought to systematically undermine British foreign policy out of some bizarre desire to see the Tsar dominate Europe, Bright trained Joseph Chaimberlain thus landing Britain with the most malignant political family since the Borgias and Gladstone sold out the Church because of some demented Tractarian spite operating in his fanatical imagination.

    Nurse!

  • Bod

    Nick M
    I consider myself suitably chastened.

    I should visit enumerating felines more often, but I doubt I’d be much of an asset in the commenting field, but I do love throwing stones at the establishment.

  • Gabriel

    On a serious note, though, you seek to synthesise the thought of techno-progressive libertarians of the past with techno-progressive libertarians of the present. There’s a lot worse things you could be, but that’s not really my bag. Gabb, on the other hand, is offering more my type of thing, but it seems that he might be a bit of a scumbag, which is a shame. It’s kind of like if I found out my Rabbi used to sell smack, except worse really.

  • Well, how to square the Ba’athian lesson with a Gabb-tastic revolution?

    I hate revolutions. Revolutions are when the little people get hurt while the big noises sit around the table and talk and talk and talk.

    That said, QANGOs do not need to be “shut down”, just no longer handed any more Taxpayers money and have any statutory rights removed back into the Civil Service and under Parliamentary oversight where it belongs – if it has not been abolished (the statutes, I mean).

    I think an incoming Libertarian Administration should begin repealing legislation fast. I am sure there will be a few run-ins with some Mandarins but they should be put straight and, if necessary, the old Chinese saying put into effect “Kill a chicken to scare the monkey”. Failure to carry out policy should be cause for dismissal – without pension or severance.

  • Andrei

    I still think this misses the point — Libertarians need to take a leaf out of the Marxist strategy — seize the halls of education and academia!

    What’s the point in selling libertarianism to an establishment who has never known anything but the welfare state? Just like Lady Thatcher discovered in the 1980s, any ‘radical’ government will be meet with the full force of bureaucratic inertia and opposition from the civil servants, for starters.

    Equally, what’s the point of a Libertarian Party that has to make its policies ‘palatable’ to the wider public? If you start to make excuses for the welfare state, not only are you betraying your own beliefs, but making it easier (for yourself and others ) to accept the continued existence of the status quo, in the end.

    Libertarians are better off joining the Conservatives as a radical wing of the party and guiding it into battle with the parasites and socialists. From that, education reform could be (possibly) achieved, thus allowing libertarian minded teachers and professors into the game.

    A bottom up sea change in political thought will have a greater lasting impact (American revolution anyone?) than taking short sighted/short living potshots at the immobile establishment (top down).

    The only caveat is time. A strategy like this may take a decade or two, so libertarians might need a good deal patience…

  • Otto

    I am sure that Sean’s Gramscian analysis is correct, however his plans for government are too simplistic. Here are a few rough thoughts about things that are missing.

    Use the principle of divide and rule with the public sector. eg Managers who cut their units spending should be in line for big bonuses. If a senior civil servant can save us hundreds of millions, I have no problem with him getting hundreds of thousands in bonus.

    Make sure that there are some winners as well as losers in each part of the public sector. eg Perhaps, science faculties in our universities might be better funded while social work courses are closed.

    Apply progressive principles where they have chosen not to, because it doesn’t suit them. For example, get some positive discrimination going to get more male teachers into primary schools.

    The progressives have always worked on the basis of scape goating groups. Where appropriate pay them back.

    Social work and social workers might very well get a verbal kicking. To the extent that there is a role needing done, people with a different person spec, different training, different attitudes and a different title (public guardians?) should replace today’s social workers. Of course, social workers could retrain, but we would have to make sure that a good percentage failed and only those who were really willing to cooperate got through the re-training process.

    Be unrelenting in exposing the progressive’s wickedness, corruption, incompetence, etc.. It should be as acceptable to admit to being a socialist, as it is today to being a paedophile racist.

    Change the propaganda in schools. British history, classical liberalism, cultural christianity should be in. Diversity and eco-bullshit should be out.

    Directly elect chief constables and senior crown prosecutors (in Scotland fiscals). They will then start to listen to what the public want, not the politicians.

    Legislate carefully as to what principles are part of our law and what are not. For a start, it has to be clear that the UK is an empire, ie a state against whose courts there is no appeal to any external body. Our legal system should be confirmed to be dualist.

    It is as essential to reject international conventions and treaties on human rights and all kinds of progressive stuff. Only genuine treaties, that concern the interests of the state should be treated as binding.

    If the ratio decidendi of any judgment relies on a forbidden legal principle (eg anything from the UDHR, the ECHR, other international conventions and treaties) then the judgment should be statutorily deemed to be no authority for future cases.

    Obviously, the welfare state would continue, but some claimants would be winners and others losers. Eg Remove the bias against marriage. Try (it will be difficult) to reduce the moral hazard of the welfare state.

    Raise the income tax threshold so that a great many ordinary working people pay none.

    Remember, as Chris Patten of all people said, that the facts of life are conservative. To take a random example, even a gay child needs / wants /expects a mum and dad.

    Gather and retain the support of the groups who would benefit from the fall of the progressive ideology.

    Weed the electoral roll to ensure re-election at the end of the first term.

    I appreciate that this is not entirely a libertarian agenda, however half a loaf is a lot better than no bread at all!

    In short, use both the stiletto and the bludgeon unrelentingly.

  • Laura

    Here in America, schools are paid for largely out of property taxes, and there has always been an issue of “old people” and other childless people being far less willing to pay to educate “other people’s children.” I would say that this point of view has become more widespread over the years as the population has aged, and as the percentage of people who NEVER have any children, or who use private schools exclusively has risen.

    In addition, as the “browning of America” continues, white taxpayers, especially those who have pulled their own children out of the public schools, are increasingly unhappy about funding gold-plated centers of learning for the expanding underclass of unassimilated illegal aliens, and unmotivated blacks.

    The radical unschoolers have also played a role in the undermining of support for public (government funded) schooling — if you can teach your own child to read with approximately 30 hours of your time, and $20 worth of used children’s books, why should you pay huge taxes for other people’s children? Public school serves largely as free daycare for working parents — I don’t want to spend a nickel on it. If people are too dumb to teach their own children to read, then maybe they shouldn’t have children.

  • Alice

    “Raise the income tax threshold so that a great many ordinary working people pay none.”

    Pity — you were really on a roll there, till you hit that bump.

    Definitely not! The cry should be — ‘No representation without taxation’. The voting privilege should be extended only to former members of the military and to those who can prove that they have paid taxes. Otherwise, we are just extending the moral hazard we see today, where people can vote themselves a piece of other people’s hides.

  • Laird

    Thank you, Alice. Beat me to it.

    Also, Otto, I wasn’t sure what you meant by “Weed the electoral roll to ensure re-election at the end of the first term.” Care to elaborate?

  • Nuke Gray!

    The cry should be-
    “No Taxation AND No Representation!” As a minarchist, zero taxes seem right, and I want a small, local affair, so that we can all turn up and vote for ourselves! The only worthwhile democracy would be small-scale.

  • Pete

    There’s no need to close down the BBC. We need to free it from the licence fee so it can manufacture and sell whatever it likes to whoever is willing to pay for it.

    I’m usre this approach would appeal to you libertarian friends at the BBC who surely must be disatisfied with the current, heavy handed, criminal law backed revunue system.

  • Bendle

    Bendle, you ask a fair question and it deserves a fair answer.

    Jonathon, that was indeed a fair answer, and I thank you for your courtesy.

  • Paul Marks

    The depressing thing is the lack of support Dr Gabb got from these young people. The point of a youth wing of a political party is to explore radical ideas – not to decide “this is not practical”. Practicalities are for ministers – not for young people who just starting to explore ideas. If the young are obsessed with seeming “moderate” there is little hope of their elders doing the radical examination of ideas.

    The Conservative party has never recovered from the destruction of the Federation of Conservative Students – the stories of chaotic behaviour were partly lies (after all I was an activist at the time – and it would be hard to think of a less “hip” person than the young Paul Marks) and partly just what one would expect from young people letting off steam.

    The biggest irony was that the left managed to manipulate Mrs Thatcher and Norman Tebbit to do their dirty work – both people unaware that the ideas of coup to destroy the F.C.S. was only an experiment/trial run (to see if a democratic organization of the right of the Conservative party could be destroyed) which would then be used against Mrs Thatcher herself.

    First the party Chairman (manipulated by the schemes of the left) destroys the strongest supporters of the party Leader (Mrs T.) and (irony of ironies) of himself. Then the that same man (now an ex Chairman) is astonished that Mrs Thatcher did not have a lot of young supporters to rally to her defence when the knives were out for her.

    It reminds me of the old question “why did the Imperial Guard not save the Tsar”.

    The Imperial Guard did not save the Tsar because they were mostly (55,000 casualties – thirty thousand dead) dead – killed in the attack on Kovel in July 1916, an attack ordered by the Tsar himself.

    Most of the survivors forgave him (knowing he was mislead and had no bad intention) – but too few survived to save him and his family, and all of Russia.

    As an historical footnote the “libertarian” Chairman of the F.C.S. (who betrayed his own organization) was later rewarded with the Parliamentary seat of Buckingham – and has proved to be anything but “libertarian” in his political positions.

    Character matters – I knew this man was bad when I voted for him as Chairman, and voting for him is one of the things I am most ashamed of in my life.

  • Paul Marks

    “Living in the past Paul”.

    Yes – guilty as charged.

    To turn to the present:

    Actually what Dr Gabb said was very “pragmatic” (although his hearers do not seem to understand that), he was suggesting leaving things like the N.H.S. and “free” education in place, whilst just going after high paid (and the are high paid now – although they did not use to be) leftist senior Civil Servants (and these “managers” are leftist these days – full of “diversity policies” and other such) and the B.B.C.

    A policy of “extreme moderation” – yet even this was too much for so many of the timid youths.

    Actually, sadly, Dr Gabb is wrong – or rather time has moved on.

    In 1997 (or even more recently) one might have got away with such a moderate approach (first get rid of some of the leftist “opinion formers” then deal with basic policy matters later), but it is too late for that now.

    Government spending is now totally out of control – I would give some of the numbers but they are so huge they just overload the human mind (including mine).

    The only hope for this country (or any other) is to radically cut government spending – in a way that Mrs Thatcher never even tried to do (although, of course, the lady did not face government spending on this scale). And such cuts can not rule any government department or function off limits.

    “Politically impossible” – if so this age will be followed by the age of the cave.

  • Dave B

    I agree with everything Mr Gabb said, can’t see the next Conservative government doing it, but they should.

  • “Set the police”?

    You trust government agents?

  • I’m afraid Gabb’s proposals are just Brit-lib-porn (“Ooh, I’d love to do that!”), but ultimately contradictory and misguided. He claims that the Conservatives have been out of power due to not taking his advice, then later he claims not to care about getting elected. Well, which is it? Are his proposals supposed to lead to electoral success, or not?

    As for abolishing the BBC, I fail to see how that would do much good. In America, we have no national media monopoly. We have always had competition between the three traditional national networks (ABC, CBS, & NBC), and now we also have competition from the cable news networks and other channels (CNN, CNBC, Fox News, etc.). Our media establishment is just as bad as Britain’s, as far as I can tell. The media takes its cues from academia & the professional white-collar classes of lawyers, doctors, etc. Leaving academia in place while abolishing one media outlet will merely lead to the proliferation of many media outlets all spreading academic Marxism.

  • Gabriel

    In the long run, tim, maybe, but in the short run it would provide the breathing space to start smashing up government buildings. Thanks to the BBC’s hegemonic position, the prospects for a Libertarian revolution in this country may be better than in America.

  • Paul Marks

    There is a failure to “get the point” here.

    What Sean was suggesting was not “libporn” (if you mean a wish list of radical libertarian economic ideas that sound like a talk from me, not from Dr Gabb) he was suggesting what I would describe as.

    “Good things to do – that will not cost you votes”.

    For example, getting rid of the B.B.C. is a “good thing” regardless of whether commercial television is as bad (and LIKE THE UNITED STATES this is only true because of the regulatory structure).

    And it would not cost votes – as people who love the television tax are not going to vote Conservative anyway.

    Ditto with getting rid of the “equality” bureacracy (and so on).

    Guardian readers who love this sort of thing are never going to vote Conservartive – so upsetting them does not matter.

    These are reasonable ways of actually attracting the votes or ordinary people.

    My argument against Dr Gabb would be “it does not save enough money”.

    And his argument against me would be “the British people will not vote for your scale of cuts”.

    And we are both correct.

  • Nigel Sedgwick, the speech is basically a condensed version of this seminal (hopefully) essay by Gabb where, I’m afraid, he pre-empts much of what you say in that comment, specifically the ommissions you point out.

    One problem. I’ve never quite managed to get to the bottom of whether Sean Gabb used to be a payed apologist for the Sudanese regime, specifically involved in smearing John Garang. Though his brand of conservo-Libertarianism is, in many ways, more my cup of tea than the Reason-magazine, techno-progressive Libertarianism that Samizdata inclines to, I’m not sure I can really forgive that.