Saturday, 20 June 2015

Libertarian London - Part 2

All Things English

I continue across the square, with Westminster Abbey to my left. It has not changed in twenty-five years; except that its opening hours are now more convenient for the tourists on whom it depends for its income.

People sometimes ask me why, after the Revolution, we allowed such a symbol of the bad old days to stand, and in such a prominent place too. My usual reply is to quote L.P.Hartley: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

I take the underpass leading south-west, and turn right, through small streets to the Westminster Arms. All this walking and thinking is thirsty work; I need a beer. The pub is small, dark and crowded. But I manage to find a stool in a relatively quiet corner.

I contemplate the renaissance of the English pub since the Revolution. People, who formerly could not earn enough to afford to go out, now can. With “luxury taxes” like those on alcohol abolished, they can do it surprisingly cheaply too. Our scrapping of drink-driving laws gave village pubs, in particular, a new lease of life. And we reduced alcohol-caused accidents in the process. For, when people are treated as responsible adults, they are more likely to behave as responsible adults. (And if someone did cause a death while driving in an unfit state, the charge could be manslaughter).

We also abolished the smoking ban in pubs. We returned the choice of whether people may smoke in a particular part of a pub to the individual with whom it rightly belongs – the publican.

Other things English have not done so badly, either. English cricket is once again at the pinnacle of the world game. The English breakfast is again seen as what it is, the finest way for any human being to begin any day. And the English common law, which during the Ugly Years had become like a dark, overgrown forest with dangerous predators lurking in it, has been re-planted. We revolutionaries pruned it down to its very roots, and it now flourishes again.

The English language, too, has become even more popular world-wide since the Revolution. It can now, truly, be said to be de wereldtaal.

And there has been a resurgence of traditional English values. To name a few: Individual freedom and independence. The rule of law, and equality before that law. Tolerance, and a sense of justice and fair play. Honour and honesty. Contempt for those that try to take for themselves unearned power or wealth. And, not least, what used to be known as the Protestant work ethic.

The Scots, the Welsh and the Irish, meanwhile, have done their own things. We trade with them in a friendly manner, but none of us interferes in each others’ affairs.

The Libertarians

Refreshed, I cross the road into St. James’s Park, and turn left. At the end, I fork right, towards what is now the Buckingham Palace Hotel. It’s run by some of the younger Windsors, too. It’s a very chic place to stay.

I find a park bench, and think again about the past. Since the late ‘80s, I had been a member of a loose and disparate movement of radicals. We had generally answered to the name “libertarians”; though I myself didn’t much like the word, preferring to think of myself as a true liberal.

Our philosophy was one of individual freedom. But there were as many different approaches to that philosophy as there were individuals in the movement. We had our anarchists, who wanted to abolish the state altogether. We had our minarchists, who wanted a teensy-weensy little state. We had our idealists, who seemed to think they could create liberty by using the democratic process to take over the state. We had those who were basically Enlightenment conservatives. And we had those who, if they had lived a century or so before, would have been Marxists.

We each did what we did, working towards freedom in our own ways and in those areas in which we were most interested. We met every so often, to listen to the ideas of our most prominent intellectuals and activists. And some of us got pleasantly drunk afterwards.

Right Wing, Left Wing, Down Wing

In the days before we understood the Paradigm War, libertarians had tried hard to work for freedom inside the political system. We had not had much success.

In the ‘80s, the conservatives or Tories, the right wing, had seemed our natural allies. They were, like us, anti-communist – remember communism? Many of them supported a fair degree of economic freedom. And some of them seemed to be quite decent chaps, eh what? But it had eventually become plain that they weren’t really on our side.

For, all conservatives’ thinking was backward looking. That is almost the definition of a conservative. The really nasty ones – their thinking thousands of years out of date – believed that might makes right. So they allowed relative economic freedom, but only so they could build the biggest possible war machine.

The nicest of the conservatives, on the other hand, were only two or three hundred years out of date. They shared our Enlightenment values, and supported economic freedom for its own sake. But conservatives, as we eventually came to see, couldn’t let go of the political paradigm. Even with the best of wills, they couldn’t see past the state to what needed to come next.

So, some of us tried seeking allies on the political left – so-called liberals. After all, most of them were, like us, against aggressive wars, racism, religious intolerance, elitism and abuse of power by officials. Many of them were decent on things like civil liberties and free migration. And they were more open to new ideas than conservatives.

But the left had serious problems as potential allies. They had fallen, almost without exception, for the green agenda and its “humans cause catastrophic global warming” fraud. And they saw inequalities of earnings – even if fully deserved, for example due to better developed skills or greater effort – as a problem to be “rectified”. So they liked to impose harsh taxes, to seize the earnings of those who honestly earned success. Thus, they became enemies of the economic paradigm. (And they did not seem to understand that, in trying to “rectify” one inequality, they were creating a different, and far greater, inequality!)

Some of us had flirted with the UK Independence Party. For many of us could heartily agree with their core belief – the EU was a menace, and had to be escaped from or otherwise gotten rid of. But they weren’t, short of a revolution, going to get power. And, if they did, they would soon become like the conservatives.

That left – apart from a few fringe loonies - our worst enemies, New Labour and the greens. They formed what I liked to call the down wing. They both wanted to destroy any chance of economic prosperity. And they both wanted to destroy our rights and freedoms too.

To summarize: The political bird had three wings. Right-wingers loved the state and its political paradigm. Left-wingers hated the economic paradigm and prosperity. Down-wingers did both.

No, there was no point at all in trying to ally with anyone inside the political system.

The Paradigm Warriors

I had joined the libertarian movement back when the game had been keeping the ideas of freedom alive in a hostile intellectual climate. I had stayed in it through the worst of the Ugly Years. During that time, our task had been to invent, and to evaluate, routes to freedom which might prove achievable. And I was still there when the game changed again, and we became Paradigm Warriors.

Taking the long view, the political paradigm had gradually been losing momentum over the centuries. So, every so often, the politicals had felt the need to start a new ruse, to fool or to cow people into supporting their paradigm. That was why absolute monarchy had given way to constitutional monarchy. That was why we had “democracy”; and also why it was such a sham. That was why we had suffered nationalism – and the wars it spawned.

That was why we had a bloated, unsustainable welfare state, too. If the welfare system was as good as the politicals claimed, it would have eliminated poverty, wouldn’t it? But it hadn’t. No, the true purpose of the welfare state was to try to fool people into believing that the state was on their side.

That was also why the politicals were so damned active. They liked to make themselves the centre of attention. They kept on doing things to us, hoping that we would notice them and fawn on them. They didn’t seem to realize that what they did to us actually made us angry and disgusted.

That was also why they had foisted on us the green scare agenda. The politicals hoped that people would buy into the scares, accept their measures to “save the planet”, and shower thanks and respect on them. But instead, we saw through the ruse to the lies beneath. So we came to feel for those that promoted the green agenda, not the respect they craved, but the contempt and hatred that they deserved as fraudsters.

The politicals had come up with ruse after ruse. But they had started to run out of workable ruses. Forward-thinking people had begun to see that the political system was unsustainable; that the state was out of date. And that we might be able to hasten its demise by joining the Paradigm War, on the side of the economic paradigm.

So, as Paradigm Warriors, our job had been threefold. First, to kick the intellectual foundations out from under the political paradigm. Second, to explicate the economic paradigm. And third, to sell it to the many who were – most of them unknowingly – desperate for it.

For, if good people were offered a real choice between the two, deciding between the economic and political paradigms was a no-brainer. Only the corrupt, lazy, aggressive and deceitful – in other words, common criminals and the political class – would choose the political paradigm.

Community? What Community?

One major difference between the two paradigms was that the economic paradigm is bottom-up. In the economic paradigm, individuals simply associate, work and trade together, and then disassociate. There is no need for people to feel a collective identity, beyond the team with whom they are working for the time being.

The political paradigm, on the other hand, was by its nature top-down. So it required people to feel a permanent collective identity; to feel a part of the state. The politicals, I had noticed, now referred to their state as “the community”. The reason, I presumed, was to try to give us a warm feeling of membership in their political system and their state.

But that idea of community had broken down. It was only a small step from voting for the party you hated least – or not voting at all – to feeling revulsion for the politicals and for their entire system. How, for instance, could any honest, peaceful human being feel any sense of community with those that had started an immoral war in Iraq, on the basis of nothing but a pack of lies? Or with those that had claimed that human activities caused catastrophic change in the climate, with no proof at all, just a load of non-science, propaganda and appeals to authority?

Any community that I could feel a part of, I used to say, would blackball Blair, Brown and Blunkett, and all the rest of New Labour. And most of those in the other parties, too. I knew I was not alone in this thought.

But I went further. I came to understand that those that supported a political policy – any political policy – that harmed innocent people, were assaulting those innocent people. Using politics against good people, I thought, is like mugging them. No; worse. For it perverts law, the very instrument which should defend us good people against the bad ones, into a weapon with which to persecute us. So I felt for the political muggers and their supporters, not fellowship or community, but anger and hatred. They owe me compensation, I thought; I don’t owe them anything but the contempt they deserve.

With hindsight, it’s obvious that political democracy had always contained the seeds of its own downfall. For politics always led to injustices. And, as the injustices mounted, the victims became angry. Good people lost – as I had - any sense of community with, or obligation to, those that promoted or supported the policies that harmed them. Fellowship is supposed to be a two-way process, we thought. So, unjust politics broke apart the feeling of community, that was necessary to sustain democracy. It destroyed the very sense of “we” that had given the democratic idea its legitimacy in the first place.

A big part of our job as Paradigm Warriors, therefore, had been to bring people to a new and sustainable sense of community. The new community we promoted was the world-wide fellowship of civilized human beings. That is, the community of all those who follow the economic paradigm. And who reject the political paradigm, and all those that use it.

But like the men and women of the Renaissance, we looked not just forward, but back to the best traditions of the past as well. We found it very helpful, that many of the values of our new paradigm were also traditional English values. So English people, along with their new sense of community in civilization, could still feel an Englishness – but an Englishness based on English values and culture, not on politics.

It was also helpful that England – as opposed to Britain - had had no political existence for 300 years. It was, therefore, less of a wrench for English people to adopt the new thinking, than it was for people in many other places.

And that is why the Revolution happened first in England.

The unholy trinity: collectivism, sovereignty, corruption

“Know your enemy,” says the old adage of Sun Tzo. And this idea has, of late, been much troubling liberty lovers. We all agree that, from the point of view of freedom, justice, prosperity and peace, the political tone in Western societies today is bad and getting worse. But can we agree on the causes of this malaise, still less work out what to do about it? That’s hard.

It’s become plain that thinking of our enemies’ paradigm as “cultural marxism,” a diagnosis favoured by some on the political right, isn’t correct. Surely, our enemies are aiming to kill our economy, to destroy the liberal legacy of the past, and to divorce people from their cultural roots. But such policies, I think, aren’t so much characteristic of marxists, as of wannabe dictators of any stripe. Besides which, all our enemies need do to refute this diagnosis, is smirk and say “I’m not a marxist.”

Others see part of the problem as a resurgence of puritanism. There’s certainly something in this; for the hatred of pleasure and enjoyment, so characteristic of puritans, is obvious in our enemies. Smokers, alcohol drinkers, fox hunters and car drivers, among many others, know this from experience. But I don’t think this idea gives us anywhere near a full picture.

So, I’ll make my own shot at diagnosing the troubles of our times. I see three main problems in politics today: collectivism, sovereignty and corruption. These are all related. Indeed, they’re so hard to separate that I see them all as aspects of one whole; three in one, and one in three. And so, I dub them the unholy trinity.

I also know the name of the devilhead, the fount of evil from which the others flow. But I’ll come to that a bit later.


Collectivism, per Webster, is: “emphasis on collective rather than individual action or identity.” Encyclopaedia Britannica goes further, saying: “The individual is seen as being subordinate to a social collectivity.”

At its root, collectivism is a failure to have regard for the human being. It sees the individual as existing for the benefit of the collective, not the other way round. So, all too often, collectivism breeds an unreasoning intolerance and hatred of the individual. And it easily leads to victimization; of those different from others, or those who develop their particular talents, or those who just want to live their own lives in their own way. Thus, collectivism destroys any possibility of justice on an individual basis.

Worse, many collectivists see a dichotomy between “public” and “private” activities, and reject the private. It’s almost as if they think, in Orwellian terms: “Public good, private bad.” Thus they come to hate private industry, honest business and earned success.

Furthermore, collectivists often seem to believe that their collective has a will, or even a Grand Purpose; and one which is, conveniently, aligned with their own. So, they like to invent political Great Causes, out of thin air if necessary. And they like to use them as excuses to impose their arbitrary dictates on people. History is littered with examples: communism, fascism, racism (and anti-racism), religious persecutions, nationalism, wealth re-distribution and welfarism, and deep green environmentalism, to name but a few.

As several of these examples show, collectivists are brutally callous, too. When their Great Causes and the policies they spawn harass innocent people, or force them down into poverty, or even murder them in droves, they don’t care. They don’t show any concern at all for the victims of their unjust and burdensome taxes, or of their dislocations of the economy, or of their violations of human rights.

Collectivism is normally characteristic of the political left. But not always. Today’s brouhaha about immigration, for example, comes mostly from the right. Yet the anti-immigration agenda is a collectivist one, based as it is on counting people as “in” or “out” merely by accidents of race or birth.

And it gets worse. All politics is collectivist! For that word, derived from the ancient Greek polis, a city, in origin means “the business of the city.” Not, I say, the business of the many individuals who live in that city. But the business of the city as a unit. Aha.

As to democracy... for now, I’ll only say that democracy is collectivist too. For however many individuals there may be in a democracy, it has only one demos. Democracy means power to the collective, not power to individuals.


Our friend Mr Webster tells us that sovereignty is: “supreme power, especially over a body politic.” The encyclopaedia, this time, is softer in tone, calling it: “the ultimate overseer, or authority, in the decision-making process of the state and in the maintenance of order.”

The idea of sovereignty goes all the way back to a 16th century Frenchman named Jean Bodin. And, when you think about it, it’s a completely mad way to run any society. That any individual, or any group, should be allowed supreme power over all others in a territory isn’t a recipe for freedom, justice or prosperity for anyone else. And as people become more and more discontented with such a system, they will eventually see no option but to overthrow the supreme power by violence – as the English did in 1649. Not to mention Bodin’s own lot, 140 years later.

To give him his due, I don’t think Bodin was really one of the bad guys. For he lived in the time of the Reformation, amid squabbling nobility and bloody religious wars. What he set out to do was to counteract the problems of his day, by justifying an increase in the power of the French king. But the legacy he left us is, to say the least, unfortunate.

In Bodin’s scheme, the sovereign – the king or ruling élite – is fundamentally different from, and superior to, the rest of the population in its territory, the subjects. In particular, the sovereign has moral privileges; rights to do certain things, which others don’t share.

Bodin listed seven privileges of the sovereign: (1) To make laws to bind the subjects. (2) To make war and peace. (3) To appoint the top officials of the state. (4) To be the final court of appeal. (5) To pardon guilty individuals if it so wishes. (6) To issue a currency. (7) To levy taxes and impositions, and to exempt, if it wishes, certain individuals or groups from payment.

Furthermore, the sovereign isn’t bound by the laws it makes. And it isn’t responsible for the consequences of what it does (also known as “the king can do no wrong.”)

And we’re still using Bodin’s system today. Isn’t that crazy? We don’t use 16th century medicine any more, or 16th century technology, or 16th century transport. And we’ve been through the Enlightenment since then, for goodness’ sake! So why are we still using a 16th century political system? Why are we still suffering a system that lets an élite do to us exactly what it wants, with no accountability or come-back? This may, perhaps, have something to do with our malaise.

Surely, we’ve put some bags on the side of this system over time. We’ve tried parliaments that are meant to “represent” us. But they don’t – their members have merely become part of the élite, and so part of the problem. We’ve tried constitutions meant to limit the sovereign’s power. But they haven’t worked. We’ve tried to separate powers between legislative, executive and judiciary. But that hasn’t worked either. We’ve tried ideals of “social contract,” but the élite don’t even try to keep to their side of any bargain. We’ve tried charters and bills of rights and human rights acts. But the ruling élite either simply ignore them, or seek to destroy them.

We’ve even tried to bolt on the rule of law as a bag on the side of the state. But did we get, in John Adams’ words, “government of laws, not of men?” Not a bit of it. What we got, instead, was government of bad legislation made by evil politicians. What we suffer today is exactly what Edmund Burke warned against almost 250 years ago, when he said: “Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.”

Even where they seemed to have some beneficial effects in the short term, none of these bags on the side have done any good in the long term. They’re like putting lipstick on a pig, or a gaily coloured sticking plaster on a haemorrhage.

And then, in recent times, we’ve been graciously (not!) invited to take part in a charade called “democracy.” Each of us gets a chance to vote every so often for which of several lying, thieving criminal gangs, none of them showing even the slightest concern for us human beings, will be given the reins of all but absolute power over us for the next few years.

Has democracy brought the freedom, justice, peace and prosperity we deserve? No; it’s actually made things worse. For, first, it brings opportunities for power to those that want power; that is, to exactly those least suited to be allowed power. Second, it pollutes the mental atmosphere with lies, spin and empty promises. Third, it allows the ruling élite to victimize minorities, and to rob Peter to buy Paul’s vote. And fourth, voting gives the whole charade a veneer of false legitimacy.

It’s worse yet; for democracy divides people from each other. The victims of bad policies feel harshly treated, and become disaffected. They come to view politics and politicians with contempt and loathing. And, slowly but surely, they lose all fellow feeling, not only with the criminal gangs, but also with those that support the criminal gangs by voting for them. Thus, today’s democracy breaks apart the very sense of “we” that gave it legitimacy in the first place. It destroys the social cohesion, the glue which was supposed to keep the democratic political unit together.

The biggest problem I find with sovereignty, though, is that it contradicts the only civilized way to run a political society; the rule of law. For the key feature of the rule of law is moral equality. What is legal, and what is not, must be exactly the same for everyone. Yet the sovereign state claims, for the ruling élite and its functionaries, rights to do things others may not. If you or I extorted money from people like the taxation system does, for example, wouldn’t it be theft or worse? Or if you or I premeditatedly killed an innocent person like Jean Charles de Menezes, wouldn’t it be murder?

And a claim of sovereignty over a territory is a claim of ownership over that territory, and everyone and everything in it. It’s a claim that the subjects, along with all their property, are actually owned by the sovereign; that they are, in essence, its slaves. Today’s élites treat us like slaves, too. For they make bad laws to bind us, while taxing us out of existence, inflating the currencies we depend on, and violating our human rights.

If you doubt that sovereigns claim ownership, consider why states claim a right to erect borders around their territories, and to seek to control movement across those borders. The logic is, that just as an individual has a right to control who enters his property, so does a state have a right to control who enters (or exits) its property. Aha.

A desire for sovereignty – or to use a slightly softer word, authority – has, for centuries, been characteristic of the political right. They’re on top, and they want things to stay that way; that’s why they’re “conservatives.” And they don’t care a damn about anyone else.

Moreover, authoritarians or – if I may coin a word – sovereigntarians are just as brutally callous as collectivists. And the thing they love most of all is war. For war, as Randolph Bourne rightly told us, is the health of the state.

But it isn’t just the right that have a liking for sovereignty. Sovereignty, and the irresponsibility which goes with it, have inspired (if that’s the right word) all the worst mass murderers of the 20th and early 21st century; including Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, George W. Bush and Blair.


Corruption, says the dictionary, is: “impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle.” Wikipedia is more succinct, defining “corrupt” as “utterly broken.”

There are many kinds of corruption. The most usual is where officials use their positions of power for personal financial gain. Many people seem to think that such corruption, at least on a large scale, only happens in third world countries. But that’s not so. Remember the House of Commons expenses scandal of a few years back?

Indeed, it’s possible to view receiving tax money, even in exchange for doing a job, as corruption. Though many government employees would object to this, saying: But I earn my living! It’s true, indeed, that the best government workers really do earn every penny they are paid. (Even I have, in the past, taken government money to do defence or NHS work). The problem is that, from the point of view of the individuals who paid the taxes, many such government jobs have costs far greater than any benefits they bring. This is clearly not according to any sane moral principle. It’s corruption, even if some may find that hard to see.

This corruption is even more serious, when we unwillingly finance bureaucrats that actively harm us. For example, when we’re made to pay for rapacious tax bureaucrats, or for goons that intercept our e-mails.

Welfare recipients too, though many of them probably don’t realize it, are embroiled in corruption. They are, in effect, receiving stolen goods.

Now, to take freely offered charity isn’t corrupt. To take an insurance pay-out isn’t corrupt. To take at need from a fund, to which you and others have voluntarily contributed for the purpose of mutual aid in need, isn’t corrupt. But to take, without a by-your-leave or a thank you, money which has been taken against their wills from those who would rather have done something else with it, shows lack of integrity. It’s a corrupt act. And those quite capable of earning their living, but choosing the lazy option of sponging off others, are even more corrupt.

Another form of corruption is crony capitalism. This is where company bosses lobby government to try to get advantages for themselves, or to damage their competitors. Officials are usually more than happy to listen, particularly if the scheme will result in increased tax revenue. I myself am a victim of a scam (IR35) of exactly this type, which – from the evidence I can see – was almost certainly perpetrated by the big software development companies like EDS, with intent to destroy the one-man competitors who took business away from them during the Y2K panic.

Then there is systemic corruption in academe, education and the media. The academics promote collectivist and authoritarian ideas. The teachers teach only what is politically correct. The media – of all political stripes – spout lies, hype, spin, scares, propaganda and emotional manipulation, all designed to keep people under control.

Then there is political corruption. We know that politicians habitually lie and mislead; for example, about carbon dioxide emissions causing catastrophic global warming, or Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. We know that the promises they make are usually empty. And we know that many of them seek power primarily to impose their evil agendas on people they don’t like. Remember the old labour slogan, “Let’s make the rich squeal?”

But there’s also a case that taking any part in politics is corruption. Even voting for a politician or political party is an act of corruption, because it underwrites a corrupt system. (It’s an act of aggression, too. It’s an aggression against all those who have been, are being or will be harmed by the policies of that politician or party).

There’s corruption in government itself, too. In the UK, it’s hard to know how much judicial corruption there is, because the subject isn’t aired. But it’s clearly a big problem in the USA, where many judgments are political, and “judge shopping” has become a common idiom.

Executive corruption is also a big issue. And the symptoms are obvious. Police brutality. Rigorous “law enforcement,” that often looks to be merely for the sake of enforcement. Zealous policing of arbitrary limits, like speed limits and minimum age limits. Routine violations of our privacy, like cameras on street corners and intercepting our e-mails. Bureaucrats that try to behave as judge, jury and executioner. And a culture of seeking to “get” anyone who deviates, even slightly, from the political correctness du jour.

But legislative corruption is perhaps the biggest problem. Almost every “law” made today – certainly in the UK, the EU and the USA, and probably in other Western countries too – is made to satisfy some evil ideological agenda, or to buy votes, or to appease some political pressure group. Moreover, the modern puritans are out in force, baying for more and yet more regulation. So, virtually all legislation made today is bad. If Edmund Burke was brought back to life now, he would have a fit.

The unholy trinity

So, there you have the unholy trinity. Collectivism, sovereignty and corruption; the three faces of the devilhead.

Collectivism is the first of the trinity; the devil’s mother, if you will. I put it first, because historically it came first. For, as the old testament tells us, there were tribes before there were kings. Sovereignty, and the state it spawns, is the second, the mischief maker or the devil’s daughter. And the “unholy spirit” is the name I give to the miasma of corruption, which we see, hear, feel and smell all around us. While each of them tends to be favoured by different factions of our enemies, the three faces of the devilhead work together against us human beings.

In Western societies, not so long ago, there was a fairly clear divide between the political left and right. The left were collectivist, but not so much authoritarian; that’s why they called themselves “liberals.” The right were authoritarian, but not so much into collectivism. So, those who hated collectivism voted for the right. And those, whose pet hates were sovereignty and privilege, supported the left. But in recent decades, the two have converged. If there’s any difference between Blair and Cameron, for example, or Obama and Bush, it’s that one lot are collectivists first and authoritarians second, while the other are authoritarians first and collectivists second. So, today, both “left” and “right” are evil. And to vote for either of them is an act of evil.

I don’t find this convergence surprising. For the ideologies of both left and right are well past their last-use-by dates. There was a time, perhaps, when collectivism may have been a viable way to run a city-state; but the age of city-states is now long gone. And sovereignty may have been a half way reasonable idea in Jean Bodin’s time; but even a quick glance at recent history shows that it has become a Bad Idea.

So, feeling a need to bolster their weakness, both sides have found it convenient to take on the practices of the other as well as their own. It’s easier to foist your collectivism on to people, if you start making strict laws to hem them in, and brutally enforcing those laws. And it’s easier to keep your position as a ruling élite, if you start inventing ruses – like the global warming fraud – designed to, in H.L.Mencken’s words, “keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

And so, collectivism fuels sovereignty, and sovereignty fuels collectivism. Thus does evil beget evil.

They both fuel corruption, too. For, as Lord Acton told us, power tends to corrupt. And power without responsibility – and that’s what, in essence, sovereignty is – corrupts absolutely. On the other hand, collectivists don’t have any idea of individual responsibility; so they don’t feel any shame for what they do, however badly they behave.

The biggest enabler of corruption, though, is taxation. Franz Oppenheimer, a century ago, identified the divide between what he called the economic means and the political means for obtaining satisfaction of needs. Those who use the economic means (work), seek to provide goods or services valuable to others. They seek to do good for others, in return for those others doing good for them. Those that use the political means (robbery), on the other hand, simply take, take, take. They offer nothing in any way valuable to the victims of their larceny.

Not only does taxation take away wealth from productive people, and re-distribute it to the ruling élite and their lackeys and cronies, and to the lazy and the feckless. Not only does it provide the corrupt with the time, resources and social status that enable them to promote their evil Great Causes and to carry out their destructive schemes. But it also encourages perverse incentives, for example where people prefer to claim benefits instead of working, or to work less hard to avoid paying more tax. And these perverse incentives, slowly but surely, cause the miasma of corruption to spread through the population like a horrible disease.

The devilhead

I said earlier that I know the name of the devilhead. I know the name of that which stands in the same relationship to the unholy trinity, as the godhead does to the Christian trinity. That name is... dishonesty.

We can see dishonesty in our enemies at many levels. First, we see it in their failure to appreciate human nature. They don’t see us as individuals. They don’t acknowledge our free will and its consequence, individual responsibility. They don’t acknowledge that human beings are naturally good and honest, and that they themselves are aberrations.

Second, we see it in their disregard for truth and objectivity, and their constant use of lies, deceit and propaganda.

Third, we see it in their disregard for ethical conduct. They fail to behave according to any sane code of civilized behaviour. Instead, they set themselves up on a moral pedestal, and assert for themselves privileges which they deny to others. And they commit, and seek to get away with, real crimes such as theft, harassment, perjury, murder and even incitement to mass murder.

Fourth, we see it in their disregard for sane principles of government and social organization. They fail to uphold objective justice, the condition in which individuals are treated, overall, as they treat others. They pervert the rule of law into the rule of bad legislation. They violate our human rights, and show no concern at all for our freedom.

Fifth, we see it in their choice to use the political means (robbery) of getting their needs satisfied, in preference to the economic means (work). We see it, too, in their desire to suppress economic prosperity, to deny it to those who earn it and deserve it.

But most obviously of all, we see it in their hypocrisy; in their abject failure to practise what they preach. We see it, for example, in those that bleat about energy from fossil fuels causing damage to the planet, yet don’t stop using that energy, or even cut their use of it. Or those that moan that the world is overpopulated, yet have families. Or those that shed crocodile tears for the “poor” and “needy,” yet don’t give away any of their own wealth, or make any sacrifices for those “poor” and “needy.”

So, there you have my diagnosis. The main causes of our troubles today are collectivism, sovereignty and corruption; the unholy trinity. And each of the three faces is an aspect of the devilhead, the deadly disease of dishonesty.

And the cure? That’s for another day. For now, I’ll just say: To hell with the unholy trinity. To hell with collectivism, and with the promoters and supporters of its Great Causes. To hell with sovereignty, with the state and its politics, and with the ruling élites, their lackeys and their cronies. To hell with corruption, and with those that take part in it.

To hell with the devil. To hell with dishonesty. To hell with the dishonest.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Some thoughts about the meeting between Anthony Watts and Bill McKibben

(Context: Anthony Watts, former weatherman and proprietor of, the biggest climate realist blog on the planet, met for a beer on Friday with Bill McKibben, founder of, and – if one may trust Wikipedia – “the lead environmentalist against the proposed Canadian-U.S. Keystone XL pipeline project.” He reported the meeting at

This was my reaction a few hours later).

I find myself worrying that Anthony is being far too kind to Bill McKibben.

It’s all very well for people to make decisions based on feelings and intuitions rather than the facts, if that’s what they want. Even I have done that in the past. And I would never want to stop anyone else doing it, subject to one proviso. That is, that they themselves are the only ones harmed if the decision turns out to have been a bad one.

The issue here is that Bill McKibben is promoting policies that have already harmed many millions of people – including me. And yet, he doesn’t seem to be even interested in examining the possibility that those policies have been based on, at best, misinterpretations of the facts, and at worst, lies.

If you were on trial for murder, would you want someone on the jury who didn’t bother to listen to the facts of the case? Would you want someone who just said to himself something like, “His eyes are too close together. So he must be guilty?”

And this isn’t just a murder case. It isn’t just about whether one individual goes to the electric chair (or whatever other barbarous means you Yanks use these days). It’s the future of human civilization that’s at stake. For those of us who don’t believe the CAGW cant, Bill McKibben and his ilk want to destroy human civilization for the sake of nothing but a pack of lies. And for me at least, however well he can converse, and whatever his opinion of or capacity for craft beer, such an agenda cannot be forgiven.

There’s another problem too; the problem of hypocrisy. Did Bill McKibben fly from his home in Vermont to California? Did he use a car to get from the airport to Chico? Bill McKibben wants to deny to us – to all of us – the very same conveniences that he takes for granted.

Hypocrisy is very typical of collectivists. They don’t understand individual responsibility, so they don’t feel any shame for how they behave. But again, for me, hypocrisy is something that cannot be forgiven.


Monday, 1 June 2015

How to Pay for Government

(From the archives - January 23rd, 2005)

'Tis true, said John Locke, governments cannot be supported without great charge. And 'tis fit everyone, who enjoys his share of the protection, should pay out of his estate his proportion of its maintenance.

We all know that he was right on the first count. The charges, with which political governments burden us today, are so great as to be becoming insufferable. (Not just the financial ones, either). But was he right on the second also? For how much we are expected to pay for government, today, bears no relationship to how much benefit we receive from it. What we are forced to pay is not our proportion of the maintenance. Rather, a lying, thieving, bullying political class, with an agenda of re-distribution of wealth and a hatred of earned success, is trying to squeeze us honest, productive human beings out of existence.

John Locke was usually right. And I think he was right on this matter too. Each of us should pay for our share of the benefits of government, no more and no less. Today's out-of-control taxation is suffocating good people. It must be done away with.

So, what is our share? How much should each individual pay for government? And how might we make sure that how much an individual pays is always in just proportion?

Before we can answer these questions, we must first ask, what is government for? John Locke's answer was as follows. Government, being for the preservation of every man's right and property, by preserving him from the violence or injury of others, is for the good of the governed.

If I myself were asked to summarize in one sentence the purpose of government, I would say this. Government exists to defend civilized human beings, their possessions and their ways of life against the uncivilized.

Next, what are the valid functions of government? Here's my list of three. One, civil law, to furnish a just means of resolving disputes, and provide for compensation for damage caused. Two, honest police and criminal law, to provide sanctions against the malicious and the uncivilized. Three, military defence, to defend against external aggressors. (Well, there's maybe a fourth, but I'll come to that later).

Very little of what today's political governments do is about real government. A lot of it is about building and expanding bureaucracies. A lot of it is about bullying people. A lot of it is about providing low-quality services inefficiently. A lot of it is about re-distributing and wasting earned wealth. A lot of it is about lies, spin and scaremongering.

Of the around 40 per cent of our earnings which the average Western government takes from us, only perhaps 5 per cent is used to perform genuine functions of government. The rest goes on political agendas. Many of these are actively against the interests of good people. Others force us to accept monopoly or near-monopoly services, which would be far better provided by competing private enterprises, to which we can say "No" if they start doing the job badly.

Now, how much should an individual pay for real government? I invite you to think of the genuine functions of government as like insurance. Think of your home contents insurance. What are the factors, on which its price depends? (Assuming, of course, that the insurance companies have enough competition to keep them reasonably honest).

The fair price of home contents insurance depends on two factors. One, the amount you decide to insure for. That is, the replacement value of your possessions. Two, the risk of their being stolen or destroyed. This is mainly a function of the area you live in. Multiply the amount insured by the risk, add a bit for administration and profit, and there you have your price.

The fair price of government, I think, should depend on these same two factors. One, the total value of your possessions. And two, the risk in the area where you live.

It seems very reasonable to me that people should pay for government in proportion to their total wealth. After all, the benefit to them, over and above defence of their lives, is in the long term likely to be in proportion to how much they have to insure. And it seems consistent with common sense that, if A has ten times more wealth than B, A should pay ten times more for the protection of it. It's also in the spirit – and even to the letter – of John Locke's view.

How could a non-political government price its services so that each individual pays in proportion to his or her total wealth? I'm going to make a suggestion, one which will set libertarian economists howling. I'm going to suggest adding a fourth function of government – a currency. And I'm going to allow them to inflate it!

How much would a real government need to inflate its currency each year, to cover the costs of its functions? Well, I make a guess that an individual's total wealth, on average, is between 5 and 10 times their annual earnings. That means that a government, to raise the equivalent of 5 per cent of earnings, would need to create (either on paper, or electronically) each year an amount of money between half a per cent and one per cent of the total wealth of its subscribers. That's a lot less than today's political governments routinely inflate their currencies.

This would have great benefits. At a stroke, it would eliminate all tax bureaucracy, all the complicated tax rules and regulations, all the form-filling, all the hassle, all the court cases to do with tax. It would eliminate re-distribution of wealth, and the political agendas that go with it. And this means of taxation could not be evaded. Not by anyone who holds the currency, or assets denominated in it.

Of course, my numbers will need refining. Perhaps I am on the optimistic side. And there are many potential difficulties, which would need to be ironed out.

For example, such a system is only truly fair in an area where the risk is roughly constant. People living in big cities might reasonably be expected to pay more than those outside. However, there is a solution to this. If the cost of government in London or Manchester, say, is higher than in the rest of England, then they can divide their currencies – and their governments. The London government can print London lire, and the Manchester one Manchester marks. While the English government, responsible for the areas outside, continues to print English pounds.

The proliferation of currencies would at first seem complicated to people. But I think this can be solved by technology. It should be possible to quote people a price in whatever currency they want to pay in. I could use, for example, my 40 English pounds to buy in Manchester an item whose local price is 50 Manchester marks. This is not unlike what happened in Europe before the euro – but the volumes would be so much greater, that transaction costs would reduce almost to zero.

What if people chose to hold their investments, or much of them, in "foreign" currencies? I think this would have the beneficial effect of inducing higher-cost governments to drive down their costs. I think, however, that most people would keep a significant stake in their local currency – if only because their homes would be valued in the local currency. And it would not be so convenient for a Londoner, who has chosen to hold English pounds rather than London lire, to have to get police to come all the way from England when he needs them.

The spectre of the London government and the English government going to war with each other might worry some, too. But I don't think this would be an issue. Remember, these are real governments, not political ones. In fact, I think they would happily co-operate with each other on military matters – as long as the need for military defence remains.

I can speculate still further. If cities can issue currencies and have their own governments, then why not individuals? After all, this would be a return to the roots of currencies. Currency is, in essence, a transferable IOU, whose value depends on the wealth, honesty and reputation of its issuer. Would some of us, perhaps, elect to hold some of our wealth in Gates' guilders or Branson's baht?

Even more interestingly, might there not be companies formed with the purpose of competing to provide good government to as many people as possible – and making a profit out of it? Imagine if Pinkerton's, say, had a world-wide currency – the Pinkerton's peso, perhaps – and an ambition to serve good people in every city and town in the world?

Is this idea radical? Yes. Beneficial? Yes, to everyone, except those with vested political interests. Practical? I confess I'm not sure, though I hope it could be made so.

Is it – or something like it – going to happen? Well, that's up to you, dear reader.