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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

[Nigel Farage] is a politician, so everything he says needs to be decoded. But licensing [of handguns] is vastly preferable to banning, not just a little bit preferable… more importantly he is doing the one thing you are not supposed to do in polite society, he is actually discussing the subject. Next thing you know people will be discussing the NHS and the phrase “envy of the world” will not be heard anywhere.

- Perry de Havilland

24 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    It is quite true that this move does not go as far as libertarians would wish, but it is a move towards freedom (and sanity), it should therefore be welcomed and supported.

    Sadly I do think Mr Cameron will be saying anything like this any time soon.

  • bloke in spain

    The question with Farridge is not whether he goes as far as libertarians would wish but whether he’s making UKIP electable. As a policy position, relaxing gun control is similar to his recent sortie into the women’s rights at work issue. He’s doubtless perfectly right, the maternity leave requirements make women with childbearing potential risky hires. But being correct doesn’t stop the avalanche of enraged feminism descending. And they will get the key media coverage & their message will be picked up by the rival parties. On gun control you run straight into “Think of the children!” emotional minefield.
    Maybe, in a post UKIP elected as UK Gov with comfortable majority scenario, it’d be possible to have intelligent debates about libertarian issues. But as there’s not much sign of them* going on in the public forum, a political party championing them’s on a hiding to nothing.

    *That’s down to you guys. You need to spend less time discussing libertarianism amongst yourselves & more time discussing it with the unconverted. More talking in broad details & less fine tuning. And accept change will be incremental. Compromise with non-libertarians is worthwhile if it can take you in the direction you wish to go. This is politics not perfection.

  • You need to spend less time discussing libertarianism amongst yourselves & more time discussing it with the unconverted.

    Isn’t this precisely what Farage is doing, and isn’t this a good thing even if he doesn’t get elected?

  • bloke in spain

    It depends, Alisa, on what you want. If you want politicians elected who are favourable to libertarianism, it might be better if those politicians kept their discussions to those aspects of libetarianism, don’t frighten the horses. Or do you just like talking about libertarianism? Entirely possible. There a great deal of “Lord give me chastity, but just not yet” about libertarian debate. A libertarian small State probably wouldn’t provide a comfortable environment for libertarian academics to leisurely discuss libertarian philosophy. It might expect them to do some productive work.

  • bloke in spain writes of Farridge (perhaps a reference to a poem by Luke Wright, paywall bound as far as I can find, though £0.89 is an interesting valuation) and of broad detail.

    This while encouraging us to avoid ‘confusing’ arguments like “positive discrimination is still discrimination” and “that bad people exist does not require everyone to be punished”.

    Best regards

  • It depends, Alisa, on what you want. If you want politicians elected who are favourable to libertarianism, it might be better if those politicians kept their discussions to those aspects of libetarianism, don’t frighten the horses.

    No I think being timid like that is a huge mistake. If notions about actual liberty cannot even be discussed, then we have not so much lost the fight, we have not even started to fight, we are just accepting the status quo. Just by bring the topic up and refusing to be cowed by ‘sensible’ opinion, Farage has done us a great service.

  • bloke in spain

    ” Farage has done us a great service”
    How exactly, Perry? When Farage opened his mouth on the maternity leave issue he inspired a media feeding frenzy orchestrated by the feminazis. If anything he enhanced their cause. “This right wing nutter is agin’ it, therefore…” Yes. I know that’s not the actuality. What the hell does that matter? This is politics, not a university debating chamber.
    His espousing of a relaxation of gun control will not encourage a debate on gun control. There’s no national forum for it in the UK. Dead issue. The controllers won it. It will inspire a debate on UKIP gun nuts.

  • How exactly, Perry? When Farage opened his mouth on the maternity leave issue he inspired a media feeding frenzy orchestrated by the feminazis. If anything he enhanced their cause.

    Really? I think quite the opposite. I suspect most of the people who agreed with the media frenzy when he stated the obvious about maternity leave were never going to vote for UKIP anyway, so who cares? Yes it is precisely because this is not a university debating chamber that I think Farage should just be Farage. Just because it gets reported in a negative way that does not means it get read in a negative way by the people he is actually trying to reach. You cannot always fight your battles on ground of the other side’s choosing if you want to make progress and indeed Farage is not, which is why they are spluttering with fury about the remarks.

  • bloke in spain

    Try looking at it less like a bridge tournament & more like a poker game. It’s not how strong the hand is but how it’s played. The object isn’t to have a pleasant social evening. There’s real money on the table. It’s to send the other players home without their shirts.

    “Just because it gets reported in a negative way that does not means it get read in a negative way by the people he is actually trying to reach.”

    Who’s he trying to reach? Anybody who’s halfway to Farage’s position on maternity leave or gun control is likely three-quarters of the way to the UKIP camp. To get what he wants, UKI, he needs to be courting voters who’ll give him MPs. Neither issue’s an election winning one.
    This is why I wholeheartedly disagree with your contention. It’s to libertarian activists* to make the running on controversial & diversive issues. You, in other words. Then let libertarian favourable politicians follow the trend as public feeling shifts. If you can shift it. The canny ones will contrive compromise positions in your general direction & then public consensus can be ratcheted across further in due course.
    It’s, broadly speaking, reversing the strategy the left has been playing for years. And winning.

    *If there is such a thing. Not much sign.

  • So then he should be talking about funding the NHS, defeating “terrorists”, making our power supply industry more “sustainable”, making more things “hate crimes” and fighting “inequality” I guess. Seems to work for all the other guys.

  • bloke in spain

    “divisive” Grrr…

  • bloke in spain

    Perry. Give the man something to run with & he can run with it.

    Look how the “fair tax” debate has gone & learn. Left has played a blinder. The street spearhead of the Occupy troops. A mass of disinformation. Now Cameron has little alternative but to endorse it or be seen as favouring tax evaders. Evaders used there intentionally, rather than avoiders. The two terms having become synonymous.
    Where are the libertarian activists bricking Ms Oppenheimer’s windows over Stemcor? Or the Graun offices over Cayman Island offshoreing? Let alone for lower taxation.

  • Kevin B

    That Nigel Farage, he’ll be doing the weather forecast next.

  • Bloke, how exactly are you going to get people to vote on issues if won’t let those issues be discussed by the politicians who need voting? And even if Farage doesn’t get elected, the issues are still being discussed – by an actual politician, not an academic. Sometimes it really is OK to take ‘yes’ for an answer, you know.

  • They’re not divisive issues, Bloke in Spain; they’re issues that the Media Class has a common (and opposite Farage’s) opinion on.

    It’s like the War on Drugs here in the States. I ask, “Why should [whatever person is the subject of the current story] be punished because he wishes to alter his brain chemistry in a way you dislike?” A lot of people react as though I’m sort of freak for thinking this way.

    You also used “for the children” earlier. Farage is (more or less) trying to get children to think and argue from principles; the Media Class and their supporters in politics are trying to get children to emote and teach them that it’s good demonize anybody who disagrees with them to get their way. How is this possibly a good thing to teach the children?

  • bloke in spain

    Alisa & Ted
    Mine is not a philosophical argument. What you’re saying is entirely true from a philosophical point of view. It’s purely a tactical argument in the realm of political realities.
    Take immigration as an example. Go read Powell’s notorious “Rivers of Blood” speech & try & find what made it carry the notorious label for decades. Best you can come up with is a few inappropriate use of particular words. But it was a disastrous speech in the context of when it was made & who made it. It’s dogged political debate on immigration ever since. No politician could debate immigration freely because in political circles, “immigration is a good thing” was an established political ‘fact’. That’s continued until fairly recently because no politician, mindful of his own career, would stick his head above that particular parapet to get it shot off. No party would. Now, for better or worse, there is such a debate. But there is such a debate because there’s been a shift in public opinion compels it.
    Similar applies to Europe. I helped with the unsuccessful Referendum Party campaign in ’97. We got about a hundred votes in our constituency. Almost total disinterest amongst voters on Europe, for or agin’. But Farrage & UKIP are prospering because public opinion on Europe has moved. They’re playing to a receptive audience on that issue. They’re playing to a receptive audience on other issues. But, if they wish to get elected, it’s choosing the issues.
    It’s very libertarian of Nige to voice opinions on relaxing gun control. But the vast majority of voters aren’t libertarians. Relaxing gun control is not an issue anyone’s much interested in. So if it’s debated, it’s not going to be on a libertarian basis. It’s going to be on whether it’s a good idea to let people own handguns. And sorry, the shouty “don’t let maniacs near firearms” lobby is going to drown out any other opinion because they’re the only ones with an opinion. Farrage gets the label “the man wants to give guns to nuts”. Then people who oppose UKIP on other issues can use that label to discredit UKIP.
    It’s all very well talking about open & honest politics. But politics isn’t open & honest. Sorry. it’s not in the incumbent politicians’ interests to be open & honest. If you want open & honest debate you have to change the politicians. And, just at the moment, by default, they own the playing field & write the rules.
    All very pragmatic & distasteful I know. But it’s reality. If you want libertarian politicians you have to change the playing field & the rules they’re playing under. That’s up to you. They can’t do it for you.

  • All very pragmatic & distasteful I know. But it’s reality. If you want libertarian politicians you have to change the playing field & the rules they’re playing under. That’s up to you. They can’t do it for you.

    Yes and you don’t do that by only discussing the topics your enemies want you to discuss.

  • bloke in spain

    Perry. Remember I’m referring to politicians in the public arena here. Not general freedom of speech issues.
    Where is the benefit in discussing topics which your enemies don’t want discussed, if by doing so you give them ammunition to discredit you? If they’re not topics which chime with the public, the only audience is you & your enemies. You’re on a hiding to nothing. The discrediting part is the only part gets attention from the public because your enemies will ensure it does.

    Are you saying only politicians have a voice? Astute politicians will run with the wind of the public mood, tacking to the port they prefer.

    Or do you sincerely believe the great public forum is run like a debating society where the most logical argument wins? I can assure you it isn’t. Prejudice, emotion, myth are all much more powerful arguments than logic. Always have been.

  • I must admit to sympathising with bloke in spain’s argument in this thread, even though I do not agree with it.

    It is indeed very tedious to keep having to reiterate one’s correct arguments against a sea of uninterest. I certainly would rather not do it, and usually don’t do as much as some others (CAGW being a good example).

    However, the whole community keeping silent is really not a viable option. It does not support winning the argument as soon as it is practical to do so. It misses potential opportunities for testing a weakening in the opposition. And it misses opportunities of discovering one’s unchanged case has crept closer to public opinion.

    It is also interesting to note that bloke in spain has gone on, here in this thread, to his 7th comment on the topic (plus 1 typographical correction). That is not exactly giving up when no one is ‘listening’!

    Best regards

  • bloke in spain

    I thank you for your sympathy, Mr Sedgwick
    It’s been another unsuccessful attempt to get paper libertarians thinking about how they take the libertarianism they say they believe in, off the paper & onto the streets where ordinary people might be able to see it. As ever it fails. They prefer other people to do it for them.

  • slowjoe

    Bill Whittle talks about the fact that statist control of the MSM is the military equivalent of air supremacy.

    The fact is that libertarians discussing anything, on our agenda, or on the agenda of the enemies of freedom draws the equivalent of an air strike. Another useful metaphor is the swarming from angry bees.

    I think (in the absence of clearer thinking) that it’s important to draw that fire. It reduces the impact of further salvos, and pins down elements of the MSM as opposed to certain ideas.

    It fits into an “Alinsky’s rules” strategy. The key is to not stand and fight on any particular position, so the swarm tactics don’t connect with the target.

  • WWTWM

    “Ordinary people” don’t give a fuck about anything that tales more than a couple days to do and don’t have the brains do connect the dots even if they do give a fuck, so that can be safely ignored anyway.

  • Chris

    Bloke, not being from the UK, I’d be interested in hearing what would be the issues Farage and UKIP could use that would increase their share of the vote. If it’s not maternity leave or self defense, what are the opportune areas to strike?

    The real issue is not whether the Left complains. They’ll always do. It’s whether the moderates who decide elections feel the same way, or are open to being convinced by the Left’s arguments.

    The areas to strike, it seems to me, are always the ones where there is the most cognitive dissonance between the Left’s talking points and reality. People notice that. So where is it the most obvious in the UK?

  • bloke in spain

    @Chris
    “I’d be interested in hearing what would be the issues Farage and UKIP could use that would increase their share of the vote. If it’s not maternity leave or self defense, what are the opportune areas to strike?”
    I rather think that’s the wrong way round. It could be exactly those two issues. If those were two issues the public were concerned about sufficiently, UKIP could benefit electorally by championing a position. But it’s down to people who feel strongly on those issues to give UKIP something to champion. It’s not enough, just because a few Samizdata contributors think relaxation of gun controls are a good idea, Farage & UKIP should make the running whist they sit back as spectators. They want something. Go out & sell it to the public themselves.
    In essence, it’s trying to do politics the way we’re all supposed to want it done. Politicians listen to the public, not tell the public to listen to politicians. The forum should be the public’s not the politicians’.
    The left’s politicians are rather good at this. They do respond to public wishes. The problem is; what the public wishes is very often guided by the left’s very vocal cheerleaders. Whilst from the contrary point of view there’s almost total silence. It’s not simply “blame the media”. The media can’t report something if there’s nothing to report.