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I was a Thatcherite

I am a child of the Cold War. Nostalgia for me involves talk of the Fulda Gap, the Three Day Week and rats in London streets due to uncollected garbage, Genesis (the group not the Biblical one), Deep Purple, terrifying flairs and garish wide ties, Nationalisation, Arthur Scargill, Bloody Sunday … followed by Adam Ant, Ultravox and New Romantic shirts, Frankie says RELAX, Privatisation and… Margaret Thatcher.

I would not have described myself as a libertarian back then even though I more or less was (and indeed I was only vaguely aware of the term, preferring ‘Classical Liberal’ in the non-debased non-US sense). And I still do not call myself one really, even though I more or less am. But for more than a decade I did indeed take delight in calling myself a Thatcherite (even though I only ‘kinda’ was), primarily because it was a wonderful shortcut for discovering all I needed to know about whoever I was speaking to at that time, just by watching their reactions.

I fully expected the Cold War to end in either a global Götterdämmerung or at least with ‘us’ and ‘them’ killing each other in the streets of Britain as our utterly worthless political class (plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose) finally imploded and the decades of animosities boiled over. No one was going to change the fundamental direction things were headed and I did not just expect to have Molotovs thrown in my direction, I was expecting to be throwing them myself because I hated ‘them’ as much as they hated ‘us’. And I still do.

And then… Thatcher happened.

She was the leader of the Stupid Party Conservative Party and yet she was saying a great many of the things I was thinking, even if I was not always saying them. Years before LOLcats and the internet, there was a caption above my head that read “WTF?”

The more I listened, the more I could hardly believe my ears. We needed a whole lost less state domestically and rather more state pointed Eastwards, because if you did not like the state we had now, you really would not like the one those guys (and assorted domestic traitors) wanted for us. This was only… sort of, kind of… what happened but there was no disguising that this was very clearly not the future the Evil Party Labour Party had in mind for us… and she was making it actually happen.

All this and all Thatcher did needs to be understood within the context of the Cold War (and winning thereof, against both the Soviets directly and their domestic UK stooges).

Even back then I knew she was not even nearly radical enough but the important thing was she actually talked openly and eloquently about the limits of state power. And she did perhaps the most masterful and subversive single act of any modern politician I can think of: right to buy… turning recipients of state largess into private property owners, permanently removing a valuable asset from state ownership.

Maggie Thatcher pissed off all the right people and I swung her name around like a handbag with a brick in it.

And of course ever since the day she was brought low by her own party, I have been looking for the next Thatcher, someone who can pick up the pieces and tie off the contradictions and replace that succession of worthless dissembling jackanapes from Major (the Grey Man) to Cameron (Heath-lite). Portillo had promise but proved to have feet of clay… David Davies had (and indeed still has) real promise and actually believes in civil society and the notion that Conservatives should be (gasp) conservative. But as a result the Stupid Party hate him and instead of Nigel Lawson, we have a moron like Osborn who five years after what happened in 2008, wants it all to happen again.

There is no new Thatcher on the horizon that I can see, unless by some improbable miracle Nigel Farage manages a 1922 style permanent reordering of the current dire political order of things. But then I could scarcely believe the likes of Margaret Hilda Thatcher could have happened either.

Requiescat in pace.

82 comments to I was a Thatcherite

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    While I was a child during the Thatcher years, I arrived somewhat too late to have any real grasp of Thatcherite politics. This is something I have not remedied so I remain something of an outsider to this topic. So treat what I say accordingly. My thoughts on Thatcher are summed up below. If anyone would like to educate me further on this topic, please do so.

    -Many of the people up here in Scotland who despise Thatcher and will be actively celebrating her death do not seem to know why they hate her. Somewhere along the road the idea that “She’s evil” became fixed in their minds, and they’re sticking with it. But if you ask them for any specific instances to prove their assertion they cannot provide one.

    -I watched a speech by Thatcher on the then EC and she made all the right noises. However, there is no getting away from the fact that she continued the traditions of her forbearers by moving us closer to that entity which would eventually become the EU. I find this outcome difficult to reconcile with her words. At the very least she was instrumental in keeping us out of the economically suicidal single currency.

    -People probably wouldn’t have thought Major was quite so grey if they had known how involved he was in stabbing Thatcher in the back, stepping over her political body and grabbing the reins of power.

    I’m not looking forward to the next few weeks of Schadenfraude. It’s ugly even when it is deserved, and I really don’t think Thatcher deserves it.

  • I find this outcome difficult to reconcile with her words. At the very least she was instrumental in keeping us out of the economically suicidal single currency.

    I was also a fan of the Common Market, because it seems that inevitably this would, in the long run, lead to a race-to-the-bottom for regulation in order to boost competitiveness.

    How wrong we were.

  • I always admired her actions in general, but the way she stood up to the Soviet stooges during the cruise missile deployment hoo ha, was magnificent.

    My only disappointment was when she agreed to become “Baroness” Thatcher. I never thought she fit into the House of Lords, she was a commoner and a great one.

    She will be missed.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Nice article, Perry. I agree with all of it.

    I don’t buy the line from those libertarians – and there are plenty – who argue, quixotically, that we would have been better off long term to have had a re-elected socialist government in 1979, let the whole thing fall apart, and somehow, let a pure political force erupt from the rubble. It is highly likely that what would have happened in such a situation would have been terrible.

    Maggie got plenty wrong (I think she regretted not seeing the disaster of the EU far earlier); I think she also missed a trick in not doing more to roll back certain powers and allowed regulatory controls to grow worse in some ways. But she was dealt a pretty difficult set of cards. People bash her for being nice or at least not nasty to Pinochet – do they think she hadn’t studied the history of South America? And in fact, by standing up to the Argentinian junta, did a favour for pro-democracy forces in that continent.

    Her achievements overall are great: inflation, privatisation, cuts in high marginal tax rates, a reinvigorated economy, standing up to the Soviets, to union thugs, etc.

    Overall, she deserves the plaudits. I mourn her death. I think much of the sharpness of feeling at present is that she contrasts with what we have in power now. It hurts.

  • I never thought she fit into the House of Lords

    I have always rather like the idea of a non-elected Second House, so I was delighted.

  • Paul Marks

    Many thanks Perry – your post was very good.

    J.V.

    Mrs T. was lied to about the matter you mention.

    From the first Mrs T. pressed for limits on the amount of money the EEC (as it then was) took *(and was mocked by the establishment for doing so).

    On government spending and labour market deregulation the establishment blocked Mrs T. for years (and, at the same time, bashed her for “cuts” that had not happened and for “union bashing” that had not occured [and desperatly needed to occur to deal with UNEMPLOYMENT] till Norman T. came along).

    But on the EEC-EU the establishment went into overdrive with their lies.

    Mrs T. was told that the “Single Market” was about free trade – that only a “narrow nationalist” and “protectionist” would oppose this “free market” measure.

    It was a vast shining lie (as Christopher Booker and Richard North have exposed – the “Single Market” was really about a tidel wage of REGULATION), but the entire establishment conspired to lie to Mrs T.

    As Snorri often points out (to hot blooded people like me) anything can be used to expand the power of the state – one was look for hidden motives (check the small print).

    Actually (boast time) I was not fooled in 1986 – I knew what the “Single European Act” would lead to.

    But I did not have the entire Civil Service (and so many others around me) lying to me every day.

    It is easy to be an “armchair general”.

    Mrs T. had to lead in real life.

    And I would have charged the gates of Hell with her.

    Forget victory and defeat (treat those two imposters just the same – the consequences of actions are often impossible to predict with any certainty) what matters is the charge.

    Do what seems to be the honourable thing – or die trying to do it.

    If anyone asks for more, then they are asking for too much.

  • What Paul said. Putting my thoughts together on the passing of the great Lady is going to rather tough for me. She is the reason I am in politics and the fact she personally encouraged me along will always mean a great deal.

  • Hugh Myers

    ‘would love to see Farage PM in the UK with Rand Paul President in the US. ‘many fond memories of Ms Thatcher’s resolve and leadership. She’ll be remembered with respect and affection by many of us in the US.

  • Johnnydub

    Jaded Voluntaryist – Why is she hated?

    Because it’s the losers mantra – let’s blame someone else… The left’s mindset is driven my shame that they are fucking losers, hence their relentless desire to change the rules of the game to suit themselves better.. (cf. the Occupy movement)

    Look at Glasgow East – been voting labour since Labour came to be, and now have a life expectancy worse that an Romanian pig Farmer… and “it’s Fatchers fault…”

    But most of all, she showed people that with solid conservative leadership the country could thrive – and thus they hate her for it. And if you read Nick Cohen’s book “What’s Left” he shows how this hate for Thatcher morphed into hate for the people that voted for her.. i.e. the ordinary working class people of the UK, which is why the Labour Party went batshit crazy with immigration, because in their minds, if they couldn’t take the white working class vote for granted, then fuck em.. they’d import a voter base they could…

  • I don’t buy the line from those libertarians – and there are plenty – who argue, quixotically, that we would have been better off long term to have had a re-elected socialist government in 1979, let the whole thing fall apart, and somehow, let a pure political force erupt from the rubble.

    The notion anything better could have come from socialist victory in 1979, given the fact that the continuation of the economic collapse that was well under way by then would probably have meant Soviet domination, is simply ludicrous. But then looking at the utterances of people like Rothbard regarding the Soviet leaves me profoundly grateful such people were so widely ignored.

    My views have changed a lot since the days I called myself a Thatcherite, but then that is because the context has also changed.

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    I have somewhat mixed feelings about what Mrs Thatcher did and didn’t achieve as Prime Minister. And, well, she may have slowed things down a bit, but we are once again in a giant statist disaster.

    What I do admire, though, is that when she came to power in 1979 Britain was in a terrible state, and a great many people in the media, the bureaucracy, the government at large, her own cabinet etc simply believed that Britain was in a state of irreversible decline, that nothing could be done, and that at best their job was to manage that decline. Thatcher stood up, rejected that view utterly, said “Enough!” and set about doing something about it. Lord, we could do with someone like that now.

  • Willer

    Surely some of her conviction cannot have failed to rub off on the current cabinet. I dearly hope not.

  • One more thing

    Correct me if I’m wrong but Princess Di got a full bore State Funeral

    Mrs. T gets a ‘ceremonial funeral’

    mmmmm ?

  • Lee Moore

    The Spectator has dusted off an editorial from 1975 in which they recommended voting for Thatcher.

    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2013/04/death-of-margaret-thactcher-clear-choice-for-the-tories/

    One is struck by

    1. How wysiwyg Thatcher turned out to be
    2. How easily the editorial could be recycled to 2013, with the replacement of the word “Heath” wherever it appears, by the word “Cameron.”

  • llamas

    That’s Frankie SAY Relax – no s.

    WTTP in the CD rack right in front of me at my work PC. Music to apply GD&T by.

    Apart from that, +1. But there will never be another like her because the Evils have adapted, all over, everywhere. In essence, they have taken a leaf out of her book, and can change the wind by direct appeals to the masses. The differece being, she always told the truth, whereas they have no issues with lying.

    RIP.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    Taylor: No. Diana got a Ceremonial Funeral too. The last PM (and I think the last person) to get a state funeral was Churchill.

  • Don’t forget it was Dennis Thatcher that was made a hereditary Baronet in 1991, hence we have Sir Mark Thatcher 2nd Bt. Scotney.

    Mrs. Thatcher was created a life peeress as Baroness Thatcher in her own right in 1992 after her retirement from the House of Commons.

    Both Margaret and Denis gave decades of service to this country and are worthy of our respect and admiration.

    Sir Mark Thatcher 2nd Bt. Scotney deserves a good slap for being an ungrateful prick and a decent GPS.

  • Paul

    Her support for Pinochet and Botha was troubling for anyone who values freedom.

  • Snag

    She made mistakes, as all humans do, but she got far more right than she got wrong, and that cannot be said of any of her successors to date.

  • Her support for Pinochet and Botha was troubling for anyone who values freedom.

    Indeed, those were a couple of the contradictions I alluded to. But also as I said, I think those were also things that needed to be seen within the context of the Cold War… the ANC was Soviet backed and Allende was no better than Pinochet. Does that mean backing them was ok? Not really, but encouraging the likely alternatives at the time would not have been preferable in any way… and in retrospect I think nothing we know now suggests that was incorrect. The left in Chile were as vile as the right with the extra dimension they were on the other side of the Cold War… and the ANC only because tolerable from a UK perspective once their rise to power was not going to mean a Soviet naval base in Simonstown :D

    My problem was even if pragmatic politics demanded Pinochet and Botha be supported, it was a great pity they were not jettisoned the moment they were no longer plausibly valuable to the East-West confrontation.

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    This is a school of leftist that hated (and hates) Pinochet because he was put in power with the aid of the CIA and this subverted the glorious socialist experiment being carried out by Allende. If that’s your reason for hating Pinochet, then ugh. If your reason for hating Pinochet is that he was a vicious thug that let a vile government that tortured and murdered a great many people, then I’m with you.

  • Mr Ed

    Re: Pinochet. Chile helped the UK at massive risk in 1982. Argentina planned to revive Operation Soberanía from 1978 to attack Chile after dealing with the Task Force. The Argentines planned for 30,000 casualties in 1978. Anyone remember that Sea King crashing in Chile in 1982? Chilean pilots at Luton airport? Argentina might have gone for Chile during or after the conflict. Documentary in Spanish re 1978, in many parts.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vthHW2I3BMU

    There is a lot of circumstancial evidece of RAF planes operating from Chile in 1982 (Nimrod, Canberra). Thatcher may well have felt grateful for Pinochet permitting Gen Frei, his Air Force chief, to give the UK a lot of help. Had the UK lost, would the Junta in BA have fallen so soon? Have the Argentine political class ever said ‘thank you’?

  • Mr Ed

    The left hate Pinochet for depriving them of what Nicaragua was to be in the 1980s, a warmer ‘paradise’ where the death cult of Socialism can safely be practised on people who don’t matter.

    Chile’s misfortune was that General Leigh did not lead the post-coup government, even the Guardian gave him a positive obituary, if read fairly.

    In this world, my enemy’s enemy may be a useful ally.

    What world would we be living in, if alive at all, had Heath succeeded Callaghan in No. 10, then Foot Heath?

  • Paul Marks

    Mrs Thatcher opposed racial segregation in South Africa – and was a friend of Helen S. (for many years the only opposition M.P. in South Africa).

    And in Chile?

    Mrs Thatcher stood for a return to Consitutional government.

    Allende stood outlawed by the Congress of Chile in 1973 – whether he died by his own hand (as even Al Jazeera now accepts – and the forces of Islam are in alliance with the left in Latin America, Al Jazeera regularly favours their cause without seeming to notice that this in contradiction with their own polticial and economic system) or died by the hand (or will) of Pinochet – he was no longer President of Chile (any more than I am).

    However, Pinochet was not rightful President either.

    And after losing the referendum in 1989 he (like Sulla before him) retired.

    By the way – those who cry “freedom” do not always mean it.

    If they really mean “Social Justice” when they cry “freedom”, then let them suffer the same fate they threatened others with but two days past.

    “But they were joking”.

    Perhaps – but I am not.

  • RAB

    Quid Pro Quo with Pinochet and Thatcher I think. He and Chile were of great assistance during the Falklands war. Radar and and safe havens for our Special Forces doing what our Special forces do. When our so called friends, like our fellow brothers in the EU, were of no help at all, or even hostile.

  • Paul Marks

    To give a concrete example….

    In the book “Dreams From My Father” Barack Obama (or Bill Ayers – who may well have “helped” with the work) spends ink with sorrow on the deahths of tens of thousands of Communists in Indonesia in 1966 (not that he formally admits they were Communists) – he does not mention the Communists started the killing (it only became an “abuse of human rights” when they started to LOSE), nor does he mention that it was the PEASANTS of Indonesia who did most of the killing of the Communists.

    You see in China at this time TENS OF MILLIONS of peasants were being killed by the Communists – and the peasants of Indonesia did not wish to suffer the same fate.

    How unsporting of the “reactionary” peasants (perhaps they were “racist” and “sexist” and “homophobic” as well).

    But then they were ignorant, uneducated by “libertarian” academics in how they should suffer fate of Social Justice without resistance.

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    >Had the UK lost, would the Junta in BA have fallen so soon? Have the Argentine political class ever said ‘thank you’?

    If Thatcher helped the junta in Buenos Aires to fall (and I think she did), it may have been the best thing she ever did.

  • The discussion of Thatcher is quite fascinating as it demonstrates how many don’t remember or never educated themselves about the Cold War and what was at stake. They also have no clue what a wreck the UK was in in the late 70s. The concept of garbage rotting on the streets and three days weeks doesn’t even register as possible.

  • Mr Ed

    Re Indonesia, I reall ages ago reading a quote from an Indonesian general who (allegedly) called in a radio broadcast for restraint in dealing with the Communitss: ‘Do not shoot the Communists!’ He proclaimed, then qualifying his call ‘Bullets are too good for them, use knives!’. Such were the times, and many died, albeit a tiny farction compared to China, Camboia, Laos or Vietnam in the following years.

    It was in the context of Socialist industrial-scale murder across much of the World that Mrs Thatcher came to power, and not a small faction of the Labour Party were at the very least dangerously sympathetic to the Soviet Union, if not actual agents thereof.

  • Paul Marks

    It was before our time Mr Ed.

    But I would remind that most of the killings in China had already taken place – that is why the folk of Indonesia did not need ESP to know their fate if the Communist won.

    As for the “liberal” mind (now the “libertarian” mind?) – I do not understand it, and do not much want to.

    In 1968 Uncle Walter made his famous speech at the end of the Tet Offensive (a total defeat for the Communists – but the “liberal” media presented it as a victory).

    “This reporter” (i.e. Uncle Walter speaking like a pretentious idiot) “favours an honourable peace” (i.e. a dishourable surrender – leaving millions of people to be slaughtered).

    There were piles (literal piles) of civilian dead at Hue (and many other places) as Uncle Walter was speaking.

    But he, and the rest of the “liberal” media, were not interested – as the Communists had murdered them (so it was a nonstory).

    Perhaps I should discuss the matter with the “libertarian” academics – accept I believe that plucking out some of my nose hairs would be a more productive use of time.

  • Toby Bainbridge

    My first post, so apologies if I miss an apprpriate tone. I was a lefty child of the 80s but would now describe myself as a libertarian.

    My recollections of the reasons why Thatcher was loathed does not revolve around everything being “Fatchers fault”, but more her assertion that “she” was uniquely right and the impression she (and others in her governments) gave that any alternative POV was deceitful. As a mixed race kid from Essex, this especially hurt in relation to apartheid but was also true for other conflicts where no faction could be said to have clean hands (e.g. Chile, Nicaragua etc). However, I have always thought that her government’s position on the Falkland Isles was one of the few high points of post WWII decision making.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way Pinochet was the CIA’s choice.

    And why does no one complain of the CIA intervention in the election in Chile in 1964 – when the Christian Democrats (really Social Democrats) were put in power with American support?

    Supporting the nonCommunist LEFT in Latin American was American policy for many years.

    In El Salvador it was Duarte who was put in power by American influence in 1979 (some remember that total idiot).

    Nationalised ever large company in the country – and was land-reform-r-us as well (breaking up estates into tiny unproductive plots).

    And endless government health, education and welfare spending….

    And the Communist problem?

    It EXPLODED (as the economy collapsed) into a full Civil War by 1982.

    As for Pinochet.

    His worse deed, as far as the ordinary people were concerned, was rigging the exchange rate – “fixing” the exchange rate of the Peso to the Dollar. That set up a massive slump in the early 1980s (his support never really recovered from that).

    But I do not want to be nerdish at people.

  • In the article above I wrote:

    But for more than a decade I did indeed take delight in calling myself a Thatcherite (even though I only ‘kinda’ was), primarily because it was a wonderful shortcut for discovering all I needed to know about whoever I was speaking to at that time, just by watching their reactions.

    … and after reading many of the newspaper and blog articles written today about Thatcher, I realise now that it is as true now as it was in the 1980’s.

  • Phil B

    rather than getting bogged down in the fine detail at this point (and there is a tremendous amount of detail about her time in office and her achievements that have been swept under the carpet that deserve a fair hearing) I will say this:

    Look at who hates her and is rejoicing at her passing.

    Those bottom feeding creatures reactions are far more eloquent testimony of her greatness than all of the above discussions at this moment.

    The world will have to wait a long while to see her likes again.

  • jdgalt

    I can think of another, quite possible, miracle that would do the trick: full independence for Scotland.

    Back in the Blair administration, The Economist pointed out the reason Labour didn’t want such a full separation to happen: Scotland, and to a lesser extent Wales, are so much farther left than England that it’s unlikely Labour could ever achieve a majority in an England-only parliament.

    Now that the Tories and LibDems are in control, one would think they’d help make it happen for the same reason.

  • Edward Smith

    I enjoyed reading the article, and all the comments. I was born in 1964, but was not politically aware before 1986, really, and not very aware at that. So hearing from the people here has been a lesson I was hungry for.

    I have 2 thoughts on Margaret Thatcher. The first is that many of the people who hate her should wish they had the impact on the world she did. She lived large, and to have so many people react in so many vibrant and even violent ways (although really, a group of unemployed drunks in Leeds celebrating a say that ends in “y” is nothing if not commonplace, and I suspect that Brixton is no less of a garbage dump than it was when I was there in 1995, so finding drunken yobs there celebrating something by guzzling ale is also a big yawn) is a testimony to that life.

    Also, stop looking for another Thatcher. The prophets did not save the Kingdom of Israel. Because the people of the Kingdom of Israel did not want to be saved. They did not see how far gone they were. Nigel Farage cannot save Britain. No one can. Only the Britons can save themselves.

    I am going to be joining a Southern Baptist congregation based here in Brooklyn. I am impressed by many things about them. Not the least of which is that they are all parents, in a time when no one has to be a parent anymore. A trip to the corner drug store with a piece of scrip from the doctor and a few dollars will see to that. And these parents make sure that they teach their children their faith. They know where to get the dvd’s and books to do that, and, having been in their homes, I see materials designed to teach and reinforce that faith.

    America is not finished, because their are people of Faith who know that they have to fight what is taught at the schools and in the media, in a way that the parents of the people I grew up with (who don’t have a lot of children) often did not.

    Make babies, and raise them with the values you want them to have, and do not assume that the schools and the television and the films and the rest of the media is ever your friend. Then you won’t need that once in a lifetime miracle that is Margaret Thatcher.

    People who need miracles may be too late to be helped by them.

  • Mr Ed

    As an epitaph, for Mrs Thatcher, or Baron Mannerheim of Finland for another example, a fitting inscription might be: ‘The scum of the Earth shall curse my name for ever’.

  • bloke in spain

    “Forget victory and defeat (treat those two imposters just the same – the consequences of actions are often impossible to predict with any certainty) what matters is the charge.

    Do what seems to be the honourable thing – or die trying to do it.”

    Be a good inscription for the gravestone of libertarianism, that one.

  • Mr Ed

    Interesting little compilation, thanks to Guido Fawkes for sharing.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/margret-thatchers-19-most-badass-moments

  • Paul Marks

    I meant to say that Pinochet was NOT the CIA’s choice – the American government had a policy (dating back to the early 1960s) of supporting nonCommunist leftists.

    As for Mrs T.

    A lot of stuff from Andrew Marr (pre recorded progamme) about her “right wing Conservative” father (he was a Classical Liberal) and her own “right wing” views.

    I did not watch the whole show but I do not think he mentioned such things as the Jewish girl the Roberts family rescued from Vienna in 1938 (and looked after for two years), or that (as Guido notes) that Mrs T. supported the legalisation of homosexual acts (indeed voted for legalisation).

    bloke in spain.

    Yes it would be a good inscription for a gravestone.

    I doubt you meant it as a complement – but I will take it as one.

    I will also give you an example.

    When the King of Poland saved Vienna in 1683 he did so by charge – any hesitation or slowness would have given the Ottomans time to turn to face him(get the cannons in position and so on).

    “Slow is dead”.

    Once anything gets into a committee room LIBERTY LOSES – we either win openly and fast (or not all).

    But his charge could have ended differently – they could have all been killed.

    So what?

    You charge anyway. Waiting just makes it worse, reduces still further any chance of victory.

    Meanwhile……

    The new President of Kenya is promising “free” (government funded) healthcare for everyone – and if the other person had won, he would have done the same.

    Just as with “free” (government funded) education.

    It is no different in Spain – and you know it is no different.

    The 1978 Consitution is a suicide note – a Christmas Tree of “rights”.

    We live in an age where the academic, political and media elite think that government can provide everything to everyone.

    Even in a desperatly poor country like Kenya.

    The gravestone of libertarianism?

    The grave is going to have to be a lot bigger than that.

    A lot more people are going to go in the grave.

    We need to warn people – openly.

    Working behind closed doors will not work – the left are past masters at that game.

    We will not take over their organisations THEY WILL TAKE OVER OURS (indeed they already are).

    Win openly – or not at all.

    “It will be not at all”.

    Perhaps so, perhaps so.

    But as you have nothing better to suggest……

  • bloke in spain

    “But as you have nothing better to suggest……”

    Oh I’ve something better to suggest Paul. Suggested it a few times, as well.

    Learn from your enemies & use their tactics against them.
    Bugger honesty, courage & principles. You don’t die for your cause. You ensure your opponent dies for it.
    Lofty academic arguments may enthrall lofty academics but the bloke in the street doesn’t give a monkey’s. But if you want a libertarian society, he’s the guy you have to convince. There have been no instances of academics flinging themselves on the barricades, ever. When the going gets tough, the wordy are gone.

    Do you for a start?

  • Learn from your enemies & use their tactics against them. Bugger honesty, courage & principles. You don’t die for your cause. You ensure your opponent dies for it.

    I agree completely. Do whatever works as this is war, not some gentlemanly sporting event. But do not ‘bugger honesty, courage & principles’ as they can work wonders, and when that is the case… have honesty, courage & principles.

    And when duplicity and underhand tactics are all that will work, be prepared to do that too, because they sure as hell will.

  • Paul Marks

    I never run away bloke in spain – I am too fat and my breathing is crap.

    “Bugger honesty, courage and principles”.

    Then the collectivists WIN. That is their world – their environment.

    “Ensure your opponent dies for it”.

    The Patton argument.

    Now there I AGREE with you.

    You can not use collectivist tactics of lack of principles “against them” – because those tactics naturally bring about collectivism.

    Collectivist tactics bring about collectivism – natural enough.

    But if you mean use harsh methods – not dishonest methods, not methods that lack principle, just harsh methods.

    Then you are saying something worth saying – indeed you are.

    Harsh methods can also bring about collectivism – but not always.

    By the way……

    Academics (at least in the humanities and social sciences) are about the last people on Earth to be impressed by rational arguments.

    The tradition of Plato (of academia) is to TWIST reasoning (about justice and much else) not to honestly seek the truth.

    I am more like Frank Meyer than William F. Buckely – but I take the Buckely point.

    If you want a rational discussion – go to the first 50 names in the Boston telephone directory.

    Do NOT go to the humananites and social sciences people at Harvard.

    I believe that a normal person can understand something like Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics In One Lesson”.

    But if I wrong – then we are indeed buggered.

    Because there is no way on Earth that the “intellecual elite” are going to be won over.

    I put what hope I have left in that “ordinary person on the street” that you mention.

    And if the “enlightened ones” use harsh methods (to crush those ordinary people – smearing them as…… whatever) then harsh methods should used back on them.

  • Snorri Godhi

    It is flattering that Paul Marks mentioned my general views as an approach to the EU. I might as well mention, however, that my views of the EU are rather nuanced.
    No doubt my views have become a lot closer to Thatcher’s, but i am not going to forget that she would not have relinquished currency controls if the EC (as it was then) had not forced her to. (Though i learned this long after the fact.)
    I have also not forgotten that, even as she rightly saw the dangers of monetary union, her lax monetary policy made that union look desirable to the few Britons skeptical about competitive devaluations.
    I do not intend to sound mean at this time: compared to Thatcher’s achievements, her failures were small; and yet those failures, sadly, are already undermining her legacy. Perhaps the best way to put it is: she famously declared that The Constitution of Liberty is “what we believe”; she should have believed more fervently in the chapters on constitutionalism and on monetary policy.
    Still, if she did nothing else than changing the terms of the debate, that is in itself a monumental achievement.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Perry dH:
    “And when duplicity and underhand tactics are all that will work, be prepared to do that too, because they sure as hell will.”

    Or to put it another way: the way to success is honesty: if you can fake it, you’ve got it made.

  • Snorri Godhi

    WRT Pinochet: surely we can admire the good his government did, without committing to an opinion of him as a man.
    After all, even the Chilean “left” implicitly approved of his economic reform, by extending and expanding them.

    In fact i suspect this is the real reason why his name is reviled in Europe: if he had killed the same number of people, but left an economic mess, he’d have been forgotten. Instead, he, being about the only military dictator with a good economic record, “proves” that “fascism” and free enterprise are strictly connected. No matter that there is a big difference between rule by generals, such as Pinochet, and rule by corporals, such as Mussolini and Hitler. And no matter that few other ruling generals introduced free market reforms.

  • Paul Marks

    Snorri – hardly anyone understands monetary policy.

    I think I do – but I could name you plenty of people who would say I know nothing (or less than nothing).

    As for Nigel Lawson’s monetary policy of “shadowing the D. Mark” (and the increase in the British money supply this meant)for all her faults I doubt that Mrs T. was a fan of the policy.

    Of course Nigel Lawson should not have been either.

    He wrote AGAINST exactly this sort of policy.

    Back when he was editor of the Spectator.

    You find yourself in a machine – a government deparment (or local government) and you find yourself caught up in the group-think.

    Unless you are so grounded in your beliefs that they are almost automatic with you – so you are hard to push off track.

    Then you get attacked as “closed minded” and “dogmatic” – exactly the sort of person the enlightened ones hate.

    However, there is a way to deal with this – for some people.

    Smile a lot (and sincerely).

    Do what you want to do – ignoring the official papers (which you do not even bother to read – do not worry they will be nonsense anyay, so it is silly to stay up to 0200 in the morning reading them).

    Do what you know to be right – but smile and pretend to listen to advice. And be very friendly to people – concerned with advisers families and so on.

    At his best Ronald Reagan was like that.

    When he listened to the “experts” we got things such as the Amnesty of 1986 and the Emergency Room Act.

  • bloke in spain

    D’y know something, Paul. I don’t remember once mentioning collectivism. You know why? Because I’m a great believer in collectivism. It’s the way to get things done. And it’s getting things done that’s important. Pure individualism never achieves squat. But individualists who can join with others of similar mind, agree what they have in common, compromise on what they haven’t & work together, have at least a chance of hacking a future that’s fit for an individualist to live in. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It shouldn’t be perfect. All freedom is a work in progress because the finished product would be tyranny. But none of this gets done by just talking about it.

  • No, bloke, that is flat out wrong.

    Collective == collectivism.

    Joining a company or a partnership is a collective effort but it is not collectivism. Collectivism is making people part of a collective effort at gunpoint. It is the difference between volunteering and being conscripted. Big difference.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Paul: i certainly don’t understand monetary policy but i know what i like, and what i like is knowing what the money in my pocket, bank account, and pension fund is worth.
    I also like to be able to take any amount of money i see fit when going abroad, which i could not do the first time i traveled abroad (from Italy).

  • bloke in spain

    Wrong in what way, Perry? I’d have absolutely no problem in taking some of our more leftist contemporaries down the road at gunpoint. This is the difference between aspiring towards something & achieving it. If you think a libertarian world is worth having then you’re probably going to have to ram it down a few throats. Waiting to convince everybody, get you there in time to see hell freeze over.
    Or are you not personally buying what you’re selling?

  • Snag

    Yeah, FORCE them into freedom…

  • That sounds like the guff being peddled by Santorum and his ilk over here. Force people to adopt your version of freedom by all means necessary.

  • Snag

    I occasionally have difficulty conveying irony, seemingly this is one of those times.

  • bloke in spain

    All I can say Mr Dodge is while you’re working through your 310,000,000 versions of freedom, some of us are more interested in actually in arriving at some.

  • Oh trust me Santorum’s version of freedom is nothing of the sort. Unless you consider Spain under Franco “free”.

  • bloke in spain

    And I find it absolutely fascinating, so many in praise of the Great Margaret Hilda seem to have completely failed to understand a single word she said. Suggest you start with the infamous “No such thing as society” speech & work from there.

  • Wrong in what way, Perry?

    Wrong in every way. Semantically, logically, practically… you name it.

    If you think a libertarian world is worth having then you’re probably going to have to ram it down a few throats.

    Force == collectivism. Indeed collectivism can only be held at bay with force. I also have no problem shooting liberty’s enemies in the head if need be, just as liberty’s enemies would do to me. I would hope to do that ‘collectively’ with other like minded folks if that day ever comes.

    Or are you not personally buying what you’re selling?

    I am just not buying what you seem to be selling. It is the difference between positive and negative ‘rights’. I am willing to use force to defend people’s negative rights not to have things they did not agree to forced on them. But then, I am not a collectivist.

    That means I am willing to point guns at (or have laws passed to forbid, which is the same thing by proxy) people trying to abridge those negative rights either directly or via the political system. I would do this by proscribing whole areas of life from regulation… Hint: “Congress shall make no law…” That kind of thing. Only I would follow the logic of that to where leads and proscribe more and more things. Democracy is fine and dandy as long as it is bound hand and foot as to what people can actually vote to do.

    That is force backed law but it is not collectivist. I do give a damn if people want to give a tithe to their church, or join an army, or live in a communist Kibbutz or whatever other un-libertarian self-inflicted hell they are partial to. I only care that they cannot make *me* do that or anyone who does not want to do those things with threats of violence (laws). And I am willing to use violence (laws) against people to make sure that is the case.

    And I am also willing to act ‘collectively’ with others to make sure I do not have ‘collectivism‘ inflicted on me at gun point.

  • bloke in spain

    Then you learnt nothing from Maggie. So why are you praising her? Everything she did you reject. She had a vision. She convinced others. When she had the power she took control. The ones she couldn’t convince she compelled. She dragged a country kicking & squealing out of the mire & set it on a new course. That’s why she’s hated as well as admired.
    If there was a new Thatcher on the horizon, by the sound of it, he/she’d scare the shit out of you. All you’re interested in is the theory of freedom. To talk about it. You haven’t got the guts it takes to win it. Because the certainties of your comfortable life might be blown away in the gale.

  • Then you learnt nothing from Maggie. So why are you praising her? Everything she did you reject.

    This makes make no sense to me whatsoever. Gibberish. Seriously. I was one of the people doing the financial work with CIPFA to make the Thatcher era privatisations actually happen.

    She had a vision. She convinced others. When she had the power she took control. The ones she couldn’t convince she compelled. She dragged a country kicking & squealing out of the mire & set it on a new course. That’s why she’s hated as well as admired.

    All great. None of which require being a ‘collectivist’

  • Midwesterner

    Collective and cooperative are not interchangeable synonyms.

    Collect, the root of collective, is something that one does to another. I am presently looking at a stamp collection. It didn’t collect itself, it was collected. Collective and collectivism are, as Perry points out, things that are done to things.

    Cooperate, the root of cooperative, is something that is done with another. Person A ‘operates’, person B ‘operates’, when they work together, they ‘cooperate’.

    A collective society is one that is collected together. It is directed. A cooperative society is one of individuals who choose to operate together. It is reciprocal.

    What is wrong with the deterioration? [mistranscription?] I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand “I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!” or “I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!” “I am homeless, the Government must house me!” and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and[fo 29] there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation and it is, I think, one of the tragedies in which many of the benefits we give, which were meant to reassure people that if they were sick or ill there was a safety net and there was help, that many of the benefits which were meant to help people who were unfortunate—“It is all right. We joined together and we have these insurance schemes to look after it”. That was the objective, but somehow there are some people who have been manipulating the system and so some of those help and benefits that were meant to say to people: “All right, if you cannot get a job, you shall have a basic standard of living!” but when people come and say: “But what is the point of working? I can get as much on the dole!” You say: “Look” It is not from the dole. It is your neighbour who is supplying it and if you can earn your own living then really you have a duty to do it and you will feel very much better!”

    Bloke in Spain, I don’t think she said what you think she said. She was making about as unequivocal statement of individualism as can be made. She said “life is a reciprocal business”. That is clearly cooperative, not collective. Big difference.

  • Richard Thomas

    Ah, my earliest clear memories start sometime around when Mrs T was elected. My feelings about her have waxed and waned over the years as my political views have shifted (largely in search of cohesion) but I certainly remember the last years of Labour’s reign with the candles on standby for when the power was cut and the piles of rubbish in the streets.

    If not for her, would people like Clive Sinclair been able to bring computers to the British public (for a pittance) hence ensuring that Britain had a face in the technological boom?

    Oh poll tax, what an unfortunate policy you were…

  • OK. My comment went to the bit bucket.

  • bloke in spain

    @ midwesterner & others with similar views
    Then you need to read Northcote Parkinson before you get to Thatcher.
    People do not cooperate in any significant numbers. Cooperation is what you get in groups intimately bound together by common ideas & purposes. It does not scale. The larger the enterprise the more the tendency for individuals & groups within it to, yes, cooperate in carving out areas to their own advantage. So all great endeavors based on cooperation are fated to fail. Why none of the -isms that depend on never work. Thatcher was a leader not a committee member. She was interested in a vision not the flavour of the biscuits with the midmorning coffee.
    Hell, you can’t even cooperate in advancing libertarianism here. You just go round in circles redefining the exact meanings of words. You want to diminish the power of the State you won’t do it by talking about it. You need to sell a dream to the ordinary guy in the street, who doesn’t give a toss about Austrian economists or the finer points of libertarian philosophy.

  • Paul Marks

    bloke in spain.

    If the “ordinary guy in the street” “doesnt’t give a toss about Austrian economics” then it is over.

    If ordinary people can not understand economic arguments then we can not win economic disputes – and “Austrian” arguments (virutally no mathematics and all concepts of the COMMON SENSE sort) are the most simple to present economic arguments.

    We can not win over the elite – thee and me agree on that.

    But you are saying we can win over the people “in the street” either.

    So that leaves shooting everyone.

    I am not nice person – but I do not believe in that.

    Not just because of the “finer points of moral philosophy” – but because I do not believe it will work.

    A lot of ordinary people are not morons.

    I am an “ordinary person” myself.

    I have never had an academic job, or a “Think Tank” job.

    I have been a security guard and gate warden (and so on) for 30 years.

    You can not get much more “ordinary” than that.

    I put my trust (what trust I have left) in ordinary people like “Edward Smith” (who was not me).

    People who want to hold down a job, or run a small business – and bring up their families (and YES get involved in local things such as their local church).

    The sort of people who made “The Road To Serfdom” a best seller because they read it in “Readers Digest” and then bought the book (and they READ IT – and yes they UNDERSTOOD it)

    These days such people listen to Talk Radio, buy books (thanks to Amazon) and still want the West to survive.

    Those are the people one “sells” liberty to.

    I think you know this.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way – bad “ordinary people” can often understand (and use) arguments also.

    Some violent criminals are about as ready with words as pigs – that is true.

    But some are very good with words.

    Some of them use the same sort of “arguments” that the academics and Think Tank people do.

    “Social Justice” has very practical applications for the evil.

    They understand that if the state has a right to loot – so do they.

  • bloke in spain

    OK Let’s try this again. From the latter part of the speech quoted.
    “I think, one of the tragedies in which many of the benefits we give, which were meant to reassure people that if they were sick or ill there was a safety net and there was help, that many of the benefits which were meant to help people who were unfortunate—“It is all right. We joined together and we have these insurance schemes to look after it”. That was the objective, but somehow there are some people who have been manipulating the system and so some of those help and benefits that were meant to say to people: “All right, if you cannot get a job, you shall have a basic standard of living!” but when people come and say: “But what is the point of working? I can get as much on the dole!” You say: “Look” It is not from the dole. It is your neighbour who is supplying it and if you can earn your own living then really you have a duty to do it and you will feel very much better!”

    That’s a simple restatement of the Tragedy of the Commons. There is no self organising society that will “from everyone according to their abilities, to everyone according to their needs”. People do not cooperate. They are individuals & families. They compete. So if you want a system to provide for the needy you have to coerce. It’s not a matter of expecting them to discharge their duties out of the goodness of their hearts. It doesn’t work that way. They have to be compelled to. That’s why we have governments. Because we can’t trust ourselves to do what is necessary.

  • People do not cooperate in any significant numbers. Cooperation is what you get in groups intimately bound together by common ideas & purposes. It does not scale.

    Completely wrong. It is collectivism that does not scale. Indeed any attempt to make it scale beyond the size of, say, a kibbutz, ends in disaster eventually.

    Cooperation on the other hand, or ‘markets’ to give it a better description, scale spectacularly well. Networks rather than hierarchies are very scalable indeed.

    Hell, you can’t even cooperate in advancing libertarianism here.

    That is exactly what we are doing and I suspect you have no idea just how much people from seemingly disparate groups cooperate. The folks from the ASI, the Cobden Centre, the TPA, Guido and Uncle Tom Cobbly and all… we all know each other and all talk to each other. And we all do different things.

    Guido does an excellent of owning the subversive tabloid end of the market and that is why in the current attempt to muzzle the press and internet, his name constantly comes up amongst the Great and Good, because the hoi polloi actually read Guido, not the ASI blog or Samizdata. And that is great… because different people read us, or read stuff from the TPA or Cobden Centre.

    There is no One Way to promote what we want and there is no single fungible lump of “ordinary guy in the street” to be sold to, but rather many ‘market segments’. And what you call Austrian Economics can just as easily be called common sense ‘housewife’ economics. Contrary to what John Maynard Keynes said, the same realities apply to private family households, banks and nations.

    You just go round in circles redefining the exact meanings of words.

    Because coherence matters. If you do not understand what you are actually arguing for, how do you expect anyone else to? And I really don’t think we were going around in circles redefining the exact meanings of words. We have always known exactly what collectivist means.

  • monoi

    “It’s not a matter of expecting them to discharge their duties out of the goodness of their hearts. It doesn’t work that way. They have to be compelled to.”

    Sorry, you are a libertarian?

    Further, seeing the mess the government has made of the welfare state, I failed to see how freely cooperating people would do worse. From what I understand, there was not a pre and post welfare state, where everyone was left to their own devices. The samaritan does rather pre date it, for example. I argue that the biggest flaw in the welfare state is the disconnection between payers and receivers.

    Lastly, I do not see that libertarianism is necessarily perfect. Nothing is. But for all its flaws, it would be infinitely better than what we have now, democratic dictatorships and compulsion.

  • Paul Marks

    Some 80% (and rising) of industrial workers were members of “Friendly Societies” in 1911.

    What the Americans used to call “fraternities” (before this word just meant student club) – providing such things as health care and old age pensions.

    If people really did not “cooperate” (both via Churches – and via secular socieies such as the above) the case of the left (including the “libertarian” left) would be PROVED.

    “See human beings can not cooperate” they would say (indeed they do say) “so we must use FORCE – otherwise babies will be left to die in lakes and……”.

    Leaving aside the fact that most (not all) leftists could not give a toss about real babies (they do not tend to be pro life people) – their case is false.

    People DO cooperate – if they are ALLOWED to do so.

    Take the specific example of the baby in the lake…..

    Let us say tomorrow at Wicky part someone “held an gun” on me and ordered me to jump in the lake.

    I would not even see the baby – I would not even (clearly) hear what they were saying.

    Because, under my skin deep intellectualism, I am a rather emotional man with (and I am not proud of this) a streak of violence in me (if I am attacked I respond – instantly and without thinking about it). I am (by my other bloodline) a “Redneck”.

    As soon as the gun was produced and held on me – the “red mist” would come down and it would all get very nasty. Most likely FOR ME (as I am both weak and slow) – but, either way, there would be blood.

    Whereaas if Brian (who does own some firearms – as it happens) came to see me in my hut WITHOUT a gun in his hands and said “there is a baby in the lake Paul – please come and help”.

    Of course I would.

  • rfichoke

    I think “ordinary person” is the wrong term for what Bloke is getting at. There are a lot of people who do not care about ideas. That is the problem we face. What Paul Marks shares with the intellectual elite is an interest in ideas, whether he makes it a profession or not.

    I would guess that roughly 30% of the people voting for Obama did so because they liked his ideas. The rest did so either because they want free stuff or he “seemed like a good guy who was trying to help people.” For the record, a lot of the latter voted for Ronald Reagan for the same reason: he “seemed like a nice man.”

    This is the great disconnect between those of us who care about ideas (although perhaps with some pragmatism because we know where ideas lead us) and the bulk of the voting public.

    I think Paul is wrong to despair, however. Those people can be reached. You just have to present a simplified and emotional form of your argument. They’ll never be solid believers in liberty, but we can convince them to support people who are.

    There is a disconnect on both Left and Right between ideologues and pragmatists. Pragmatism and demagoguery seem to win far more often than they lose. I think it’s time we learn to take advantage of those two tools ourselves.

    I’ll add one more thing I’ve been thinking about lately. Aristotle proposed three modes of persuasion: ethos, logos, and pathos. The Conservatives, Libertarians, and Leftists have dedicated themselves respectively to each of these in isolation. Let’s stop that. Let’s realize the need for integration of all three.

  • Laird

    I think Bloke in Spain is using something of a different definition of “cooperate” than the rest of us here. His usage seems to be along the lines of “provide for the needs of others”, whereas mine is “each of us individually pursuing his enlightened self interest, which results in a free and vibrant market and increased overall wealth”. He seems to impute an altruistic component to the word, which I expressly reject. We “cooperate” when we purchase goods online from someone we’ve never met; both of us benefit from that consensual trade, but neither does it for the benefit of the other or from any altruistic motives. It is in this sense that Perry is entirely correct to say that cooperation is scalable. “Carving out areas to [our] own advantage” is not uncooperative by my definition; indeed, it is the epitome of societal cooperation when I develop skills which are complementary to yours and we trade efforts to our mutual benefit.

    I also disagree with his assertion that people will not offer aid to the needy without coercion. That’s simply untrue. As Paul Marks points out, before the rise of the welfare state friendly societies, churches, and numerous other charitable institutions were widespread and effective. They have declined in number and import because the government has taken over those functions (i.e., imposed the “coercion” BiS thinks in necessary). But the result is obvious: generations of welfare dependency and a culture of entitlement. Rather than acknowledging that aid is charity, offered from humanitarian motives, welfare recipients come to believe it is their due. Government “charity” (a true contradiction in terms; stealing from one to give to another is hardly “charity” in any meaningful sense) is the worst thing that could have happened to the needy, at least from the perspective of individual freedom and the recipients’ own sense of self-worth. It is, of course, terrific if your objective is the expansion of government and its control over our lives. But if that’s your objective you’re no libertarian.

  • Paul Marks

    I despair every day.

    And then I undespair again.

    Mostly because I will not give the buggers the satisfaction of having made me stop.

    At least while I am still (just about) alive.

    By the way – a great many people can understand an argument.

    And they often are not the people you might expect to.

  • rfichoke

    By the way – a great many people can understand an argument.

    That’s certainly true. But I don’t think it’s over 50%. Or perhaps a better thing to say would be more than half the population doesn’t value argument. There’s a strong anti-intellectual current in America, at least, thanks in part to the excesses of pseudo-intellectuals. Those people are certainly reachable with emotional appeals and a warm friendly personality.

    We have also seen a decrease in virtue. Many now live solely for pleasure like brute beasts. They willingly throw away their intellects like trash. They’re completely unreachable in my opinion.

  • If just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will be adopted by the majority, a new study says.

  • Snorri Godhi

    “If just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will be adopted by the majority”

    …with 50% probability, if there is another 10% which holds an equally unshakable belief; and with 33.3% probability, if there are 2 other 10%’s which hold equally unshakable beliefs.
    And so on.

  • Midwesterner

    Yes, Snorri. And with the Euro chiming the coming of the Red Death, and with the dollar balanced on a pinnacle ready to topple, everybody’s beliefs are being shaken to the core. Everybody except followers of the Austrian School. Everybody except the “I told you so” free marketeers. That is where the most unshakable opinion holders are coalescing.

    This is what is called “a window of opportunity”.

  • […] Why? Well I think I may have given a clue why I was likely to think this way a few days ago when I wrote this: […]

  • Paul Marks

    I think more than 50% of people can understand an argument – call me an little-ray-of-sunshine if you wish.

    Mr Ed – I doubt the man has a much of a chance, but I certainly support him.

    As always with the left – charge straight at them.

    Either one wins – and astonishes the clever people who say victory is impossible.

    Or one dies – in which case the attacks of the clever do not matter (as one is not around to hear them).