Friday, 20 February 2015

In Praise of Capital and Free Enterprise

(Neil's Note: This was the début of the Darn-Poor Rhymer's versifying. It was written over a long week-end in France in September 2001. As it happens, I was on-line making the booking for that week-end when 9/11 happened.

But there's a backstory to this one too. In 2001 there was a movement called "Walk for Capitalism." It was started by a Greek/Australian guy called Prodos (what happened to him?) The idea was, that in a hundred or more cities around the world, people who like capitalism and business would meet together and do a walk. With a placard or two on display if we felt like it, but not as a demonstration or a protest. I got involved in this; and this was my small contribution to publicizing the event. On the day, I believe I was the only individual to Walk for Capitalism in two cities on the same day - Bath and London.

There was a poet,
Who didn’t know it.
So he made rhymes
About his times,
With each new verse
Just slightly worse.

Began our scribe
His diatribe:
Two-thousand One,
It ain’t much fun.
We’re highly stressed,
And deep depressed.

The nation-state
Is out-of-date,
(Thus wrote our sage
Upon his page),
Religion, too,
Is down the loo.

Meanwhile, deep Greens
Behind the scenes
Are killing the
And in the mists
Lurk terrorists.

The governments
Have lost all sense.
Their politics
Are dirty tricks,
Their bureaucrats
They breed like rats.

And parliament?
Completely bent.
They never pause
From making “laws”,
Most of them bad.
Hey – we’ve been had!

Those on the left
Like simple theft.
Those on the right
Prefer more sleight.
But both know how
To milk the cow.

It may seem strange,
But every change
Just leaves as leaders
The same old bleeders.
Don’t bullshit me.

We’ll never fix
Damned politics;
It only works
For crooked jerks.
So, loose that fetter!
Make something better!

Now, Capital
Is like a pal
Who helps you do
What’s right for you;
It lets you build
A dream fulfilled.

If every pound
Went round and round,
And, as you serve,
What you deserve
Came back to you –
Yes, that would do!

And if you’re poor?
Just put in more!
Improving skills
Will cure your ills
And you will see

When what you do
Returns to you,
Then you’ll know what
Is good, or not,
And so you’ll learn
From what you earn.

And when you spend
For any end,
Your friends, it foll’ers,
Will get your dollars.
Meanwhile, the thief
Gets nowt but grief.

Free enterprise
Can realize
A world of peace
That will not cease;
And progress, too –
Get up and do!

Increasing wealth,
Improving health,
Advancing free -
Can’t get enough?
Yes, that’s the stuff.

And what of Earth?
Contain your mirth!
There won’t be waste
In our fast-paced
And affluent

So, what to do?
December Two
(So say the ditties),
A hundred cities
Will see a scene
There’s never been.

Each guy, each gal
Will walk – but quiet!
For we won’t riot.
December Second,
Walk, and be reckoned.

These words so terse
May seem perverse,
But they’re no con;
Come, join us on
December Two!
Over to you.

The Darn-Poor Rhymer
September 19th, 2001

Why Business Is Beautiful

(From the archives: May 3rd, 2004)

As a software consultant and system designer, I am in a good position to appreciate the beauty of business. For a company's computer system is like a microcosm of the company itself. From my vantage point, I can see the business as a whole, as few can.

The company, whose system is in my domain right now, is entrepreneurial in the true sense of the word. What they do is take travel services from many different suppliers in different countries, and build them all together into a package for their client. They serve mainly the upper end of the market. They've been doing it for over 20 years. And they're good at what they do. The best in Europe, in fact.

In their computer system, I can see everything they do, from front end to back. Finding out what the client wants, and costing it up. Pulling together all the services from their many suppliers into a practical itinerary. Producing high-quality documentation to tell the client what he's getting. Making sure everything, that should be booked, is booked. Producing invoices. Banking their receipts. Paying their suppliers what they are owed. Sorting things out when they go wrong. Right through to the bean-counting at the end of the financial year, and the collection of statistics on what worked and what didn't.

Of course, not everything is perfect. People are people, for one. And, as in any enterprise, things occasionally fall through cracks. But, when I look at the big picture, the message comes through clearly: Business is beautiful. It is peaceful. It is purposeful. It is energetic. It is honest. It benefits everyone involved. For it serves the interests of the client, while bringing earned rewards to the directors and employees.

There can be no starker contrast with the good and beauty of honest business, than the ugliness and evil of political governments. Wars, genocides, persecutions, witch-hunts. Lies, spin and propaganda campaigns. The institutionalized theft, that is called taxation. Wasteful, poor-quality services that aren't what people want. Bad laws and senseless regulations. Bullying bureaucrats and police. Violations of human rights.

Politics and business are diametrically opposed ways of dealing with others. Politics is about controlling people; business is about serving people. Politics is founded on what I call the three deadly sins: violent aggression, theft and mental manipulation. Business, on the other hand, needs none of the three. Business is founded on peace, value to others and honesty.

Anyone who believes that business is morally bad has either taken leave of their senses, or has a nasty agenda. And yet, many people – too many – seem to have been suckered into having reservations about the goodness of business. Why should this be?

One skein of worry seems to be the idea that business causes inequality. Those who get good rewards through business, say the success-haters, do not really deserve them. Such arguments are persuasive in certain quarters. For example, to the lazy, or to those who have not yet learned the skill of making themselves useful to others.

But there are two easy and strong rejoinders. First, politics causes inequality too. In fact, it causes far more inequality than business has ever done. However disguised by claptrap about democracy, the nature of politics is clear. Politics is the art of persecuting people, while making out that the persecutions are legitimate. It's a system by which some claim for themselves a right to rule over others.

Second, what is actually so wrong with inequality? It is injustice that is wrong, not inequality. And injustice and inequality are plain different things. Injustice comes when people are treated worse than they deserve, worse than they treat others. Injustice comes when people suffer assaults and persecutions. Inequality, on the other hand, arises naturally because different people have different degrees of talent, application and energy.

I have no problem with the idea that the people at the top of a company deserve to earn more – often far more – than those lower down. As a rule of thumb, I have found that when the responsibility multiplies by ten, the pay tends roughly to double or treble. I don't object to that. Nor do I mind seeing exceptional people, who develop their skills and use their energies, get exceptional rewards. In fact, I am actively in favour – that's what I do myself.

As to the mediocre, they deserve what they are worth. And monkeys deserve to be paid peanuts.

A second cause of concern is that not all businesses are honest, peaceful and good value. The bigger the business, the less honest it is likely to be. Some, for example armaments makers, fuel violent aggression. Other businesses are grasping. They try to suck out of their clients as much money as they possibly can, and to give them as little as they can in return.

There is merit in some of these concerns. Making bombs and guns to kill innocent people, for example, is hardly a benevolent way to earn a living. Yet consider, who are the customers for this armoury? The buyers of all large armaments (except a few that go to terrorists) are political governments. If there were no political governments, there would be no market for large-scale armaments.

Some big businesses, too, are like blood-suckers. Insurance companies are particularly bad. They will happily accept your estimate of the value of an item, and charge accordingly; but when time comes to claim for it, they will put on it their own, lower value. Or they will try to take advantage of your need to get a claim settled quickly, to evade paying altogether. By doing so, they are in essence guilty of theft, as well as dishonesty.

Then there are those, including insurance company bosses, that like to run to governments to get laws passed to favour themselves or to hamstring their competitors. They do not seem to realize that, by lobbying for bad laws, they are guilty of violent aggression by proxy.

Then there is Microsoft. As a former user of WordPerfect, and a user of Borland's software development products, I know that Microsoft's products are usually technically inferior to their competitors.’ How, then, can Microsoft be so successful? How has it managed to acquire such a dominance? Something doesn't add up here. Which is why Microsoft-bashing is something of an art form among my friends, not to mention the US government and the European Union.

However, let's keep perspective. This paper would not have been possible without Microsoft or something like it. And, at least to my knowledge, Microsoft doesn't kill innocent Iraqis.

Then there is McDonald's. Now, I personally can't stand their product. My idea of a burger is simply a ground steak in a bun. I can do without the relishes and the other stuff, thank you. Yet McDonald's has a supreme beauty, in one sense. It is the beauty of the free market. If I don't like their product, I don't have to buy it. The people at McDonald's, unlike Tony Blair and its ilk, don't force me to pay for what I don't want.

Then there is the legion of small businesses, right down to the one-man company like me. Small businesses don't have much opportunity for violent aggression, theft or mental manipulation. They would go bankrupt quickly if they did these things. They don't have the fat that enables the unscrupulous in larger businesses to build bureaucratic empires or to formulate underhanded agendas. And so, small businesses tend to be more beautiful than large ones. Of course, there is the occasional rogue trader; but they are rare.

There is a pattern in all this. The further away they are from politics, the more honest and value-giving businesses tend to be. The closer they are to politics and government, the lazier they are, and the more prone they are to the three deadly sins. Concerns about dishonesty or bad value in business, reduced to their essentials, are really concerns about people in business not behaving in a business way, but in a political way.

I must make one thing clear. Those who work for government, or for businesses that have dishonest bosses, are not necessarily bad people. If they honestly serve those who pay for their services, and they don't commit or sanction any of the three deadly sins, they're OK.

A third strand of concern is that business and industry harm the environment. But it all depends what you mean by "environment.” For honest business doesn't harm the human environment. In fact, business, and the trade which goes with it, bring great benefits to human beings. They help bring peace, prosperity, human progress and happiness. Political governments, on the other hand, cause wars, poverty, stagnation and alienation. Politics is today the biggest source of damage to the human environment.

But this cuts no ice with the politicals. For it is characteristic of those, that want to control others, to set up idols. They put something up on a pedestal, then demand that it be worshipped. And this is what they do with "the environment.” It sounds oh so wonderful, doesn't it, that we should love and worship the environment? That we should be forced to make huge sacrifices for the sake of preserving it unchanged? That we should stop using natural resources, and taking control of our planet? That we should put the interests of wildlife (sob) ahead of those horrible, nasty things called human beings? And that we should hate, most of all, the evil, greedy capitalists that do business and make profits?

All this enviro-worship is fully as much crap as it sounds. For it follows squarely in the tradition of earlier idols; for example, the religious god, or king and country. (Or, if you come from outside Europe, president and country). Forward-thinking people today have, for the most part, seen through the first of these. And many are coming to see through the second. Few, so far, have seen the enviro idol for what it is; but we are increasing.

When someone tells you that business harms the environment, what they are really saying is that they hate business. Why should they hate business? Why is it that, for decades, the voices of those that hate business and industry have been so shrill and insistent?

Recall what business is based on: peace, value to others and honesty. Business is about treating others with the respect due to human beings. Politics, on the other hand, is about controlling people. It is based on the three deadly sins; violent aggression, theft and mental manipulation. Honest business people are better human beings than the politicals. And the politicals know it. That is why they hate business, and business people, with such intensity. They are like school bullies, that pick on the bright children in the class. They hate us for our virtues.

There has been, in recent years, a new attempt by lovers of freedom to lighten and brighten people's view of business. To concentrate on positives, not negatives. To celebrate the benefits of business and free trade, and in particular to celebrate the capitalist system which supports them. I think this emphasis on positives is good. But I am not sure that capitalism, with its rather 19th-century feel, is actually the right thing to be celebrating.

I myself am coming to the view that what we should be celebrating is the moral beauty of business. We should be celebrating the peace, purpose, energy, honesty and value of business as virtues in themselves. We should be helping honest business people to realize that they are morally far superior to the political scum that want to rule over them. And we should be promoting and celebrating the common-sense justice, which brings rewards and pleasures to those who earn them, and contempt to those that deserve it.

Yes, business is beautiful. We just need to help people understand that fact.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

On Family Values and a Free Society

(Neil's Note: This was a reply to a podcast video by DJ (David) Webb on the subject of Family Values and a Free Society. You can find it at

First, I applaud your courage in experimenting with the audio/video format. It’s an important tool for outreach, now and in the future. It also seems to put over your message in a “softer” way than an essay does. Though personally, I still prefer the written (or blogged) word, since it allows me to read at my own (rather fast) pace, and it’s much easier to check details without having to go through the whole piece again.

Regarding Mr Strauss-Kahn, it’s always amusing to see the mighty fallen. But I agree that, according to the evidence we’re presented with, he has done nothing wrong. Thus suggests that either (1) someone in power is out to get him, or (2) as usual with today’s media, we aren’t being told anything like the whole story. Or both, of course.

On the family and the problems caused by its decay, you raise three issues: (1) old age, (2) bringing up children, (3) single mothers. I think these deserve separate treatment.

Historically, the change from the extended family or household to the smaller, nuclear family began long before the state got involved in pensions and the like. I’d guess this was a consequence partly of increased 19th-century wealth, and partly of the greater mobility required of individuals in a more dynamic economy. But even after the change, most people could – and did – still, as you say, fend for themselves financially, saving for their old age through institutions such as the friendly societies. So, I don’t think the blame for the problems older people face today can be laid on smaller families.

No; it’s clear to me that “it’s the state what done it.” Heavy taxation hasn’t just made it necessary for two parents to work rather than one; but it has also stopped very many people from building up a sufficient financial reserve to take care of themselves in old age. Add to that the state’s debauchment of the currency, with prices doubling about every 12½ years by my estimation; and low interest rates that make it all but impossible for investors to beat inflation. Not to mention what Old Labour did to pensioners, and to savers in general, in the 1970s. So, old age dependency is the state’s fault. It’s been the classic “break their legs, then they’ll praise you when you give them crutches” strategy.

On bringing up children, it looks as if you’re not so far away from my views after all. As I expressed in a comment on one of your essays about 2 months ago, I think the raising of children should be a contractual matter. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a secular family contract, or a religious marriage contract. A contract approach also has the advantage of making both parties think in advance about what might go wrong, and what to do about it.

I wouldn’t disagree that there has been a large increase in those that fail even to try to keep up to the commitments and promises they have made. This is particularly easy for women to get away with, because feminists have contrived to bring about a situation where – as I am sure Mr Strauss-Khan would attest – the “justice” system often treats men as sub-human simply because they are men.

All this, I think, is part of the huge expansion of dishonesty that has taken place over the last 50 years or so. Whatever you can get away with is seen as OK, regardless of right and wrong. And again, I think this is the fault of the politically active state, with a lot of help from their media cronies. That politicians routinely lie to and mislead us, that more and more bad laws are made that pervert justice, and that the media never tell us the full story, I think are not unrelated.

As to single mothers, I’m not quite as quick as you are to condemn them. Yes, there are cases where the mother seeks to use the state to rip the man off, and that’s a big problem. But there are also cases where the man simply doesn’t want to accept his share of the responsibility to bring up a child. (In a libertarian/contractual world, he would damn well have to!) In these cases, conservative attitudes to abortion – either in the mother’s family, or in “trusted” state functionaries – often block the obvious solution, leaving the single mother with little choice in the matter. All that said, though, the root causes of the single-mother problems are clear; dishonesty and state meddling.

Finally, you hanker for the laws of old England. Indeed, the English common law, before it got corrupted by political tampering (the introduction of strict liability in criminal law, and Blair’s abolition of double jeopardy, spring to mind as examples), was a decent basis for a workable and just legal system. In this, despite being no traditionalist, I am right with you; for I think it’s possible to make the English common law do that job again.

But we need to recognize that the past is gone, and you can never have it back just as it was. And, more importantly, we will first need to get rid of the meddling state and its dishonest politics. For which, as James R has suggested above, a necessary pre-requisite is a change in people’s mind-set. A “re-Enlightenment,” if you will.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Mr. Cheese's Cabinet

(Neil's Note: This is a political piece, but it's fiction too, so it qualifies for this blog rather than "Honest Common Sense." It dates from a few days before the 2010 UK general election.)

Mr. Cheese's Cabinet

By Wensleydale Cheese MP

(This speech was made by Mr. Cheese shortly after his election as British prime minister on 7 May 2010).

You, the British public, asked for change. You have got change. You have elected ME, Wensleydale Cheese – The Big Cheese, as I prefer to be called – as Prime Minister.

My first job is to announce my Cabinet. That is, to name my cronies who will be lying to you, oppressing you and ripping you off for the next five years. So here goes.

My Chancellor of the Exchequer will be Rob Steal. I can safely say that he will be very good at screwing tacks out of you.

My Home Secretary, who will take special delight in criminalizing anything you enjoy, will be Mr. Petty. He will be closely assisted by the Minister for Constant Surveillance, Mr. Pryer.

The Department of Organized Crime (DOC) and the Seriously Fraudulent Office (SFO) will be amalgamated under the shared leadership of Mr. Bent and Mr. Crook.

The Minister of Education, with particular responsibility for Very Bad Verse, will be Mr. Doggerell.

My joint Ministers of Health, who will minister to the health of my joints, will be Dr. Quack and Mrs. Nostrum.

Four Ministers will be responsible for the climate. The Ministers for Cold will be Mr. Snow and Mr. Frost, the Minister for Heat will be Mr. Power, and the Minister for Rain will be Mr. De Wet.

The Minister for Exclamations will be Gordon Bennett.

The Minister for Losing Data will be... what was his name again? He will also be the Minister without Portfolio, having left it in a taxi.

Mr. White will run the Department of Racial Discrimination, and Mr. Mann will be responsible for sexual discrimination.

The Minister for Getting Drunk will be Mr. Tippler.

The Minister for Children’s Games will be Haydn Sikh.

The Minister for Ogling Young Girls will be Mr. Totti.

The Minister for Making You Angry will be Mr. Madden, and the Minister for Complaining will be Mr. Grouse.

Mr. Gaff will be in charge of the Department of Mistakes, and Mr. Balding will head the Department of Hair Loss.

The Minister for Lies, Spin and Propaganda will be Mr. Bull, assisted by Mr. Wittering.

I will announce tomorrow the remaining three Cabinet posts: the Minister of Hypocrisy and Double Standards, the Minister for Hare-brained Schemes and the Minister for Forgetting What He Was Going to Say Next.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Another Decision

I’m not writing any fiction at the moment. Virtually all my effort is going into my “serious” philosophical and political work, which you can find at my other blog Honest Common Sense (

So I’ve decided to broaden the scope of this blog a little. Here, I’m going to place those parts of my creative output which aren’t suitable for Honest Common Sense. That includes the extremely bad verse, which I on occasions publish under the pseudonym of the Darn-Poor Rhymer (I picked the name in honour of Ebenezer Elliott, the 19th-century Corn-Law Rhymer). On very special occasions, the Rhymer’s rhymes may be set to music by the Tippling Philosopher. I may also publish here any short stories, or essays of general interest, which I write or have written.

Soon, I shall be trawling my archives and placing some of the gems (ahem) on these pages. Meanwhile, if the fiction bug should hit me again, you’ll see the results here first.


Left, Right, Liberal, Tyrannical

A moan I frequently hear these days is that the old left versus right scale of political views doesn’t seem to be meaningful any more. Are the British National Party, for example, far left wing or far right wing? Or what about those like me, who tend towards the “right” on economic matters, and towards the “left” on other things like civil liberties and immigration?

Of course, there have been many attempts to rectify this problem. People have created scales, or 2-D or 3-D charts, in efforts to make a better map of the political world. Of these, the one I know best is the Nolan Chart.

So today, I’m going to begin with the Nolan Chart. Then, following my usual inclination, I’m going to bend it into something all but unrecognizable. And I’m going to claim that my version (which I call the LTPC chart; not to be confused with LGBT) is the best political map since sliced bread.

The Nolan Chart

In the late 1960s, David F. Nolan (1943-2010) was pondering this question, specifically in a US context. At that time, politics in the USA looked, on the surface, like a simple left/right divide. On the right, you had Republicans. They endorsed capitalism and economic freedom. But they were repressive about things like drugs and porn; they were not much interested in personal freedom. On the left, you had Democrats. They didn’t so much object to personal freedom – indeed, they had styled themselves as “liberals.” But in the economic sphere, they tended towards socialist ideas. Economic freedom wasn’t on their agenda.

But David Nolan saw that things weren’t actually as simple as they looked. And he saw that he could plot people’s levels of desire for personal and economic freedom on a two dimensional graph. So in 1969, he came up with this chart (Figure 1):

Figure 1 – The original Nolan Chart

This chart included two political outlooks, beyond left and right. First, in the top right corner, “Libertarian,” originally meaning “an advocate of the doctrine of free will.” This word had also been taken on as a self-description by a new political group, to whom Nolan himself belonged. They desired both personal and economic freedom for all, but felt they could not call themselves “liberals” because the US political left had already appropriated that term. Second, in the bottom left corner, Nolan put “Totalitarian,” meaning someone who doesn’t want to allow others any freedom at all, personal or economic.

There is – literally – a stroke of genius in this chart, which few of Nolan’s followers seem to have appreciated. That diagonal line, from the origin via the long T word to the long L word, is a new axis. And it measures something important; it measures desire for freedom. More on that later.

The standard version

After the first publication of the Nolan Chart in 1971, many different variants of it were made. If there is one version which I feel best encapsulates the whole idea, it is the one below (Figure 2):

Figure 2 – The modern Nolan Chart

This version shows three changes from the original. First, it has been rotated anti-clockwise through 45 degrees. The credit for this goes to Marshall Fritz. (He also bears much of the responsibility for bringing me into the liberty movement back in 1988. But that’s another story).

The second change is the introduction of a new “Centrist” cell. And the third is re-wording. “Left” and “Right” have been supplemented by the more common US political labels, “Liberal” and “Conservative.” And “Totalitarian” has been replaced by the somewhat softer “Authoritarian.”

My version of the Nolan Chart

Idly pondering these ideas – as one does – I came, one day, to appreciate a spark of genius in the chart. If you plot an individual’s scores for personal and economic freedom on Figure 2, you place them at a particular point on the chart. If, instead, you take the average of the two scores and plot that along the top to bottom axis, you are projecting (in the mathematical sense) this point horizontally on to the vertical, Libertarian to Authoritarian scale.

What this means is that horizontal lines on this form of the Nolan chart are lines of constant desire for freedom, whether that desire is for personal freedom, economic freedom, or a mixture of the two. This made me want to create my own version of the chart, in which horizontal lines would play a major part in delineating the cells.

I also wanted to try to make the chart a bit easier to understand for a European or worldwide audience. And I wanted to restore “liberal” to its proper place at the apex. (I’ve never liked the word “libertarian” as a political label. I prefer to identify myself as a true liberal – as opposed to the leftist fake or faux liberals.)

The result was the following (Figure 3):

Figure 3 – My version of the Nolan Chart

How did I come up with this? Well, first I picked a minimum level of desire for freedom of 75% (combined score of 150) as the lower limit of what I would rate as Liberal. My choice of this value wasn’t arbitrary; I picked it because it would allow me to make a chart in which all cells were triangular. This gave me the triangle at the top of the diagram.

Next, I picked a maximum level of 50% (combined score of 100) as the upper limit for the bad boys and girls. The reasoning behind this was that anyone that wants to see more un-freedom than freedom is a bad ‘un. So I drew that horizontal line right across the middle. I then had to decide what to call the bottom cell. No longer feeling restricted to words ending –arian, I at first thought about “statist.” But eventually, I asked myself: What is the opposite of liberty? Tyranny. So what is the opposite of liberal? Tyrannical. Licking my chops at the thought of being able to call my enemies “tyrannicals,” I wrote the word Tyrannical in that bottom cell.

Lastly, I took two of the lines from Figure 2 (one of 50% personal freedom, the other of 50% economic freedom) and used them to join up my two horizontal lines. This divided the portion of the chart between my two lines into three triangles. The left and right cells I called, unsurprisingly, Leftist and Rightist. For the centre cell, I contemplated Moderate; but eventually settled on a word which, I think, describes rather well the mind-set of those whose position lies in this centre cell. That word is “Confused.”

While my version doesn’t change the number of cells, and doesn’t greatly change their positions on the chart, it did prompt a new idea. That is, that the closest people to us true liberals are neither leftists or rightists, but the Confused. And yet, most of us prefer to try our outreach to those already politically conscious, either on the left or right. Perhaps we should be devoting more of our time trying to reach the Confused or uncommitted?

The Liberty/Tyranny Axis

Next, I added to my version of the Nolan Chart an explicit representation of the vertical Liberty/Tyranny axis. The result was Figure 4 below.

Figure 4 – My version of the Nolan Chart with Liberty/Tyranny Axis

The axis at the right represents the horizontal projection of an individual’s position on the chart on to a scale, whose ends are Liberty and Tyranny. And the numbers at the extreme right measure the average of the two scores, the overall level of desire for freedom, on a scale of 0% to 100%.

I then divided this new axis into three segments, corresponding to the two horizontal lines on my version of the chart. The 75% to 100% segment, obviously, I labelled Liberal. and the 0% to 50% segment Tyrannical. For the 50% to 75% segment, though, I had a decision to make. Thinking that anyone who doesn’t know whether they are liberal or tyrannical has got to be a bit confused, I eventually settled on the easy option; Confused.

Et voilȁ! I had created the Liberty/Tyranny Axis. So now, our political map is back to a single axis, one which measures desire for freedom.

Constraint and Freedom

A brief digression. There is a schism between the liberal and tyrannical world-views. In the liberal view, there are areas of life in which each individual must be constrained by social norms; but all other decisions are for the individual to make. On the other hand, the tyrannical view sees each individual having a, larger or smaller, sphere of freedom, in which decisions are up to the individual. But outside this, all decisions are to be made by central authority. I created the following diagram (Figure 5) to show this.

Figure 5 – Spheres and Universes of Constraint and Freedom

Starting at the very top of the scale, radical anarchists posit a Sphere of Constraint which is vanishingly small. Next come “thin” libertarians, who put into the sphere of constraint just one single ethical obligation, the so called non-aggression principle. A little further down are minarchists like myself, who seek the minimum constraint consistent with civilized behaviour. For example, upholding objective justice and the rule of law; keeping to contracts you have freely entered into; respect for the human rights and freedom of other human beings; truthfulness and honesty. And further down still, in the Confused area of the axis, are very many well-meaning people. who have not yet seen through the façade of “democracy” to the moral maelstrom that lies beneath.

As you pass the 50% point, an inversion, or what I call a “philosophical flip-flop,” takes place. It’s like a glass turning from half full to half empty. Below the 50%, the individual’s sphere of freedom, though it starts fairly large, steadily shrinks. Until, near the bottom, you reach ideologies like socialism, communism and nazism, which are authoritarian verging on totalitarian.

Progressive and Conservative

To return to my main theme. Looking back and comparing Figure 4 with Figure 2, I’ve (by design) eliminated Left and Right. I’ve moved Liberal to its rightful place. I’ve replaced Authoritarian by Tyrannical, and Centrist (with a small upward shimmy) by Confused. But there is one word on Figure 2 I haven’t yet dealt with. That word is Conservative.

What is the opposite of Conservative? I think the answer is Progressive. Indeed, many on the US political right use this word as a pejorative synonym for left-liberal. And what are the main differences in viewpoint between progressives and conservatives? I see four:

  1. Progressives are oriented towards the future. Conservatives seek their inspirations in the past.

  2. Progressives tend to favour globalization and cultural diversity. Conservatives cling to the nation state and to monoculture.

  3. Progressives are usually comfortable with change, except when it adversely affects them as individuals. Conservatives usually dislike change, except when it benefits them.

  4. Progressives think they know where they’re going; they like to move from theory to practice. Conservatives are not so sure; they like to stick to the tried and tested, and they mistrust theory.
So, I took away my version of the Nolan chart from the left side of Figure 4, leaving only the Liberty/Tyranny Axis on the right side. I then drew a new horizontal axis at the bottom on the left side, with a scale of plus 100% (extreme progressive) to minus 100% (extreme conservative). The middle of the scale – those perfectly balanced people who can take progress, or lack of it, with equanimity – is represented by 0%.

Lastly, I divided the new chart into six boxes, according to the labels on the two axes. Liberal, Confused and Tyrannical on the vertical axis, and Progressive and Conservative on the horizontal. The result was Figure 6:

Figure 6 – The “LTPC” (Liberty, Tyranny, Progressive, Conservative) chart

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my “LTPC” chart. So now, it’s over to you. You can have lots of fun classifying yourself and your friends. And even more fun classifying your enemies.

The UK political scene

I will conclude by trying to paint, on my LTPC chart, my (cynical and jaundiced) view of the current state of party politics in the UK – since that’s what I’m familiar with. I’ve ignored the nationalist parties, since I live in England. My effort is Figure 7 below. But, if you want to, you can do the same for any other country in the world.

Figure 7 – My view of the UK political scene (2015)

Some things to note:

  1. Except possibly for UKIP, who have not yet been tested, all the mainstream political parties are seriously Tyrannical – well below 25% on my scale. For example: All of them are hot on “political correctness,” the cornerstone of the Tyrannical world view. All favour re-distribution of wealth from productive and honest people to the lazy, dishonest and politically connected. All want to film us everywhere we go, to intercept our e-mails and to capture our financial transactions down to the micro level. And all support the human caused catastrophic climate change claptrap.

  2. My impression is that Lib Dems and Tories are (very) slightly less tyrannical than Greens, Labour and the BNP. But I may be wrong.

  3. When founded, UKIP was probably nearer to Confused Conservative than it is now. But recently it has become more tyrannical. It’s almost as if, in order to be allowed to play with the political ball, UKIP have had to make themselves more like the other parties.

  4. The left versus right scale is back, but as Progressive versus Conservative this time. On this scale, Labour are the centre party (which may be one reason why they are far more successful than they deserve).

  5. My guess at the centre of gravity of the UK population may be too far left and too high?

  6. As a moderate Liberal Progressive, my own position is roughly equidistant from the Lib Dems and UKIP. Strange bedfellows! But I’m so far away from any of the parties, that it’s hardly surprising that I haven’t voted at all in 27+ years now.
And a final thought. A vote for any of the UK mainstream parties is a vote for tyranny. And so, I strongly suspect, is a vote for any mainstream party in any other “democracy” in the world. Don’t do it.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

"Liberal Democracy" is an Oxymoron

(Neil's Note: This was a comment I made - among many others - on an occasion when a fellow blogger had used the phrase "democratic liberalism." You can find the original at

I find democratic liberalism (aka liberal democracy) to be an oxymoron.

Liberalism, at least as I understand it, is quite an individualistic idea. It says, in effect, “As long as you keep to this particular set of rules, in the rest of your life the choices are yours.”

Democracy, on the other hand, is inherently collectivist. For the demos of democracy is singular, not plural. Even putting the best possible light on it, democracy is “rule of the populace by the populace,” not “rule of the persons by the persons.” Democracy doesn’t empower the individual; in fact, quite the reverse.

If democracy did what it says on the tin, the result would be tyranny of the majority – the 51 per cent riding roughshod over the 49 per cent. But as it actually is, it’s even worse. However many parties there may appear to be, you have at best only three choices: vote for the ruling establishment, vote for an obvious loser like the Monster Raving Loonies, or don’t vote at all. (And they want to take away our right to do the last). So, after a while, democracies become in effect one party states; but one party states in which the ruling class can claim that “the people” have sanctioned their legitimacy. And so, like an absolute monarch, in their own minds they can do no wrong.