Sunday, 12 July 2009

The One That Is Stealing Other People's Stuff. . .

But I'm not claiming it as my own.

The following comes from Leg-Iron, and in case you haven't seen it, is as good a definition of Libertarianism as I think you're likely to get.

Great stuff:

Disclaimers first.

1) I am not a member of anything. I don't speak for the Libertarian Party and even if I join, I won't be speaking for the party because if they have any sense they won't let me near the reins of power. I like to press buttons just to see what they do. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, I'm not sure I want to join any club that would let people like me in. Joining something is, for me at least, a big decision. I once joined a union and that didn't work out too well, so I have to think long and hard before committing to any group.

2) This post has been sponsored by non-approved and soon to be illegal quantities of Glen Grant.

Right. This is what I think libertarianism means and it's not based on anything other than my own random thought processes. Party members are welcome to correct me.

There is some fear of the Libertarian movement among the big three parties. I base this conclusion on labels like 'xenophobic' and 'far right' and 'BNP-like'. They are scared. With good reason. So there is a lot of talk of 'libertarian=anarchist' and 'they'll just let everyone do whatever they please' and so on.

To an extent, yes. But it's not libertinism. You can do pretty much what you please but you must accept responsibility for your actions. There can be no 'it was my upbringing' or 'it was my culture somewhere else' or 'it's a fair cop, but society is to blame'. You did it, you deal with it.

So if you want to build an extension that looks like something from 'A Series Of Unfortunate Events', go ahead. If it falls over and smashes your neighbour's shed, you'll be liable. Not the planning committee. Not the builder. Not the architect. You. You will have to compensate your neighbour. If someone is hurt, you'll go to jail and pay compensation too. it'll take a few years to sink in, but once people work out that they won't get off with excuses any more, most will start to act with some responsibility.

Libertarianism does not mean the absence of law or the disbanding of the police. It means fewer and simpler laws that are easy to understand and follow. It means a policeman would give you a ticking off for dropping litter rather than fining you, taking your fingerprints and DNA and recording all your details on five miles of paperwork. He won't even need to ask your name. All he'll ask is that you pick up your own crap and deal with it yourself. Like they used to in the old days. He'll still have authority and if you want to kick off, he'll have the power to deal with that. But it won't be his automatic response and if you just pick up the crap, he won't even have to report it back at the station.

No targets. Also, no limits. If several months go by where nobody in an area causes a problem, the police don't need to make arrests. If a ruckus kicks off because some bunch of idiots want to clawhammer someone, the police can arrest them all. You are free to do whatever you want in Libertarianism as long as it hurts nobody else. Cause trouble and the proverbial ton of bricks comes into play.

Should you steal, rape, kill, or otherwise damage someone else, expect a long prison sentence. Prisons will have room for long-term inmates because they won't be occupied by people who grow a bit of weed for their own use, or shout a bit of abuse across the street. Sticks and stones, prison. Words, no real harm. Like the old days when the British were real people rather than the professionally offended infants they have been made to be now. Libertarianism, to me, is forcing the country to grow up. It's time, don't you think?

Pause and think for a moment. Recall the news you've read recently. How many complaints to the police, how many charges, how many court appearances, how many prison sentences can be described as 'SIr, Sir, the naughty boy called me a bad name'? The police are obliged to respond. The courts are bound by the law. They enforce something that real people grew out of when they were nine.

I don't agree with every Libertarian out there but that's not a weakness in the party. It's the point. People are individuals. If every Libertarian toed the party line, they'd be like the drones of Labour, Tory or Libby Dimmies. The party is forged on concensus, not blind obedience. I would never join authoritarian parites like the big three, the Greens, the BNP or even the Monster Raving Loonies because to do so, you must accept the manifesto as it stands . You cannot argue. No discussion is allowed. That's the rule book you signed up to, now follow it. Sod that.

Take drinking and driving. Some Libertarians maintain that there's no harm done as long as you make it home safely. I don't agree with that but I do think that drunk driving, as oppposed to driving over some arbitrary limit, is wrong and should be stopped. When you're in charge of a big metal box on wheels, capable of considerable speed, you increase the risk to others when you impair your own reactions and judgement. By a lot. It's not about how many milligrams of alcohol you have in you, it's about your ability to control your death machine.

Some people I know would be able to drive over the current limit with no problem. Others would not be safe to drive even under the limit. One, at least, isn't safe sober. So I would go for a test based on the individual's ability to control their vehicle rather than a breath test. A breath test treats us all as clones. We are not. First offence, lose your licence for a year. A second offence within that year, prison. No piddling about with points and re-education classes. But it's not based on milligrams in your blood, it's based on whether you have control of the vehicle you're driving. The risk is not to yourself. it's to other people.

With seatbelts, that's your problem. You don't want to wear a seatbelt, fine, it's you that goes through the windscreen in a crash, not me.

Speeding is not so clear. If your car does 90 and you're confident of handling it, and there's nobody about, off you go. If you're tailgating or cutting in or out, the hell with you and it's licence shredding time. On an empty road at 3 am, speed cameras are just silly.

Immigration. The love that dare not speak its name, as Oscar Wilde once said about something else entirely. My thoughts? I don't care at all. I don't care whether you're white, black, brown, green, blue, turquoise or puce. I don't care whether you're Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Church of the Militant Elvis, Satanist, Atheist, or even if you think the entire universe was sneezed from the nose of a being you call the Great Green Arkelseizure. I don't care. All I care about is '"Why are you here?"

If you're here to improve your life by becoming One Of Us, great. In you come. For a year at least, it might not be much improvement.

If you came here to sponge, then leave, or die of starvation. We are not feeding you.

To add to the quotes, here's a P.T. Barnum (I think). "There is no such thing as a free lunch".

Libertarian is not libertine. There is no racism or xenophobia. Nobody is forced to leave. Stay, follow the simple rules, you'll be fine. Your gender, race, religion or sexual preference is irrelevant, we don't care.

But libertarianism is not anarchy. There are stringent rules.

Just not very many.

1 comment:

xenophon19 said...

Spot on analysis of "libertarianism", the party should be arguing with itself all day every day, who wants to be in a party of drones?

Respect to Leg Iron