Beyond May7th – Keeping Liberty alive

It is six months now since I resigned my leadership of the Libertarian Party UK, and 3 months since I let my membership lapse.

I had good reasons to step back, let others take the reins and refrain from getting involved in the politics of LPUK. It has allowed me instead to concentrate my time and efforts on the democratic deficit with the EU referendum campaign group The Albion Alliance in preparation for the forthcoming elections, although I do wish those LPUK candidates who are standing for election the very best in their campaigns.

However, I have been asked to write something at this time as to what Libertarians should be doing beyond May 7th, after what has been an expertly choreographed (barring the occasional human error) yet bland personality driven election campaign, in the sense that there is far too much celebrity style publicity, profile and spin but very little in the way of political substance, with so very little difference between the policies of the only 3 parties with enough power to ensure that they are projected into our homes every day. (its hard to believe that overall there are 45 parties standing in these elections plus independents)

We are fast approaching the post democratic age as Peter Mandelson has oft described it and the outcome of this election is in my mind almost certainly destined to be a Government of National Unity after the egos have all been massaged and the dross removed.

So before I get into the area of what I think Libertarians should be doing to counter balance this, I will begin by asking a question, because I think that most people are Libertarian by nature, want to be in control of their own lives and their own decisions, manage their own aspirations and dreams, yet refuse to acknowledge that they have already given most of that away to the state.

If for instance I suggested that we live in a state of democratic dictatorship, a totalitarian regime, most people would reject that notion out of hand. The overwhelming majority would probably say “balderdash, we have a free and democratic society, there are no tanks or troops on the streets, no barbed wire at the border”, but please, humour me, because the images of the past do not necessarily represent the totalitarianism of the future.

So, to my question, and it is not new, and regular readers will know that I have asked this many times before, because the modern totalitarian state is not ruled by guns and thugs, but by laws and corporate partners. So much so in fact that virtually everything you do, touch, buy, make, sell, eat or imbibe is covered by a plethora of political laws, rules and regulations. Totally..

Totalitarian?  If you don’t believe that Britain is governed totally by political rules, regulations, orders and diktats, please name me 6 everyday activities, yes, just six, that you undertake that does not require a. permission, b. licence, c. regulated action, d. regulated packaging, materials, ingredients, tools etc.

i.e. 6 activities that never touch the state or a regulator.

Before you read on, I ask you to think about that question, try to find at least one totally free area of your life, one thing that you do before you deflate and realise that there is actually a rule or regulation somewhere that already covers it.

Then ask yourself why do we have nearly half the population working for the government, either centrally, locally or in Agencies & Quangos, whose sole purpose in life is creating, implementing or policing even more of these regulations.

In the UK the average during the last 13 years has been 1 new law every single day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks each and every year, with the creation during that period of over 3500 new criminal offences. Heaped upon that there have been in excess of 120,000 regulations imposed by the EU and just to keep the momentum going, there are already another 1000+ new pieces of EU legislation currently lined up ready for implementation, most of which will apply to the UK.

Yet acceptance of this totalitarianism is now so ingrained in the public psyche that I am unsurprised that during the past weeks as politicians and party manifestos have been under a managed scrutiny, not once has a single question been raised to address this issue. It is clear that there will be no rolling back of the state under whoever wins this election.

So how does this manifest itself in your daily life, and how has it come about. It has been a very complex mix of economics, legislation and government created jobs.

Firstly the economics. When Labour came to power in 1997, their mantra was to eliminate boom and bust. No mean feat, as the economic cycles had always been driven by the financial world. As markets in banking, insurance, re-insurance and mortgages grow, they eventually become saturated, no new customers, few new financial products, so the market has to collapse itself, in as controlled a fashion as possible, with bankruptcy, repossessions and asset sell-offs cushioning the fall for the financial industry, and then the cycle of growth begins all over again, and with each cycle the financial industry gets bigger and stronger.

The new plan, not just here but throughout the Western world was to wrest control of this financial cycle away from the financial industry and put it in the hands of the politicians. The method employed was simple, but it was without doubt unsustainable as the world discovered in 2008.

In the UK changes to the regulatory structure were put in place, moving some competences away from the Bank of England to the Treasury and a newly created Financial Services Agency. This tripartite system was purposefully vague enabling a feeble regulatory structure requiring little by way of accountable responsibility from each party.

Legislation was then passed enabling building societies to de-mutualise, merge and become banks, lending was encouraged at every level, flooding the markets with new finance, loans, credit and it involved an awful lot of reckless lending.  At the same time in the US, the Federal Government passed into law the Community Reinvestment Act, which forced banks to continue lending, outside of their normal risk models to secondary markets, thereby creating loans many times larger than their balance sheets.

The consequence of this political action was the creation of CDO’s and the Toxic Financial Instruments, and was the response of Banks and Insurance companies finding an innovative and unregulated method of offsetting the risk that they would not normally have undertaken had it not been for the CRA, but beyond that, the rest of the financial crisis was undoubtedly a simple case of greed that got out of hand. The law of unintended consequences had taken over.

But the unfettered lending continued through the end of the first natural cycle, the markets which were by now fully saturated and beyond should have collapsed.

However what happened was that as the private sector slowed, stopped investing and replacing equipment as it did at the end of every economic cycle, it triggered the signal for governments to step in.

Unfortunately not quick enough to stop some of the IT industry from collapse, with companies such as Siemens, MCI, NTL & Global Crossing either going into administration or filing for Chapter 11 cover, but quick enough for government to begin passing legislation that would allow the creation of jobs to replace those that would naturally have disappeared.

Now it was time for Governments to really get going. Legislation was so prolific that MPs rarely had time to read it, let alone discuss and debate.

For example: Legislation was passed to allow Council Housing stocks to be transferred to Housing Associations, along with more legislation that created obligations to renovate and upgrade. Even more legislation created a myriad of simple training schemes to take those from the unemployed lines into the building trades, grants to set up their own small business to service the need for plumbers, carpenters, kitchen fitters, windows, gutters, roofing, insulation, electricians as millions of houses across the country were upgraded created by the legislation.

Then the regulation quickly followed. Only approved contractors, creating a myriad of specialist training establishments, certification, licensing, approvals, new gas regulations, new regulation for the connection of electrical fittings, regulations on health & safety, then the HIPS on house sales, and more promises of more jobs created on the back of legislation and regulation.

This continued not just in the housing market but a plethora of new laws on sales, repairs, parts, registrations, replacements, disposals as new regulations continued to flow across literally every trade and industry. It doesn’t matter which industry sector you look at, nothing was left untouched.

To replace the near static private sector purchasing power, Governments across the western world resuscitated the ailing IT industry by embarking on the biggest technological undertakings the world had ever seen, driven by consulting firms and outsourcing the workings of virtually every government department, robotising its workforce with methodologies, taking every ill of the world and looking for a technology and regulatory answer very quickly created the the monolithic database and police state we see today.

Yet there was still more legislation & regulation stripping the public of rights and freedoms, using the politics of fear across the board from terrorists to paedophiles, international criminal gangs as big as governments, health scares and global warming, terrorising the public into allowing this technology to be used by the State in ways the British had rarely thought of, creating in its wake even more state jobs to police, monitor and cajole to keep us all in line with ever increasing fines and FPN’s.  State approved ‘security’ industry jobs are now one of the biggest growth areas right across the EU.

And since the financial crisis in 2008, a large portion of the banking industry is also under the direct control of government.

Lets not forget that by now all of this change and ongoing economic activity was being directly paid for by taxpayers as government activity rather than remaining in the private sector. Taxpayers are now paying directly for banking bailouts, consultants, contractors, grants for training, job-centre schemes, equipment, research, energy projects, PFI schemes, local authority contracted services, security industry, we can see the foothold of Keynesian economics has taken root and grown like a communist cancer, and along with it an open door to nepotism and corruption at all levels.

Now all of this activity and regulation did indeed smooth out the markets, for the period between 2000 and 2008 there was only boom, no bust, but the economy had moved from the traditional wealth creators to government.

Even before the financial crisis in 2008 the private sector made up of long term sustainable businesses, were going bust in record numbers, leaving government with a decreasing corporation tax revenue take and an ever increasing deficit. With so much money now committed it left government with little choice but to increase borrowing and taxation..

Today, the idea that the State IS the economy is now so rooted in government that the very idea of taxation cuts put forward as policy in the election debates is seen as removing monies from the economy.

But just as the Economics has moved to government ownership, so had there been a massive shift in the balance between the servant and master. Government is no longer seen as our servant but our ruler, has swept away all the institutional checks and balances that history had provided, and increasingly sees the public as the worker units that pays for it all. (a fuller explanation of this can be seen in the speech given by Sean Gabb to Conservative Future in Feb09)

The idea of local authorities providing services was once something that you requested because you wished to use it, now however ‘services’ are more often something that you are legally obliged to use, will be fined for not doing so, especially for failing to use such designated service in a prescribed and stipulated way, such as bin collections.

Local authorities will regularly use legislation designed to protect us against terrorism to snoop, spy, log and monitor the very people they are supposedly there to serve to ensure that we continue to use, and pay for, those state outsourced services.

The undertaking of simple community activities that we have done freely for hundreds of years such as a fete, fair or carnival now involves huge amounts of state involvement, taxpayer money and the use of ‘authorised’ personnel creating so many unsustainable non-jobs.

So where now for those Libertarians, Classical Liberals and those who just want a more liberating Britain, who want to see the return of Government by consent, MPs who will place individual liberty above the dogma and the all encompassing communitarian ideology on offer by the Lib/Lab/Con at this election. Whoever is returned will be giving us government that no longer wishes to serve but instead to shape and control the community, and lets face it, totalitarianism is totalitarianism whether it is supranational, national, regional or local.

It doesn’t really matter whether it is Brown’s central control, Clegg’s federalism or Cameron’s regionalised localism, it will remain a totalitarian state.

As you can see, any undertaking towards the undoing of this enormous state involvement in our lives is a huge task, and as my time with the Libertarian Party showed me clearly, the general public either cannot see this totalitarianism all around them, or in our very British way they are choosing to suffer it or ignore it until it really hurts. There is no mad rush or stampede at this time looking for alternatives and for Libertarians to attempt to compete directly in the national political arena only attracts derision and ridicule from both the media and politicians.

Right now, today, it is a difficult question to answer, because life in the UK, the EU, and indeed much of the Western world, is going to get a lot lot worse before anyone is in any position to make it any better. This soft communist, communitarian form of government that has been created is not one that is sustainable, no such government model ever has and it will not last for ever.

For the population to stay above the water line there are no more taxes that can be borne, for government, there is a diminishing scope for further borrowing as the cost of servicing its existing debts continue to rise. The first national dominoes are already wobbling in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy. Any suggestions by politicians that they can stem this tide, like Canute it is at best an optimistic challenge, perhaps with expensive dams holding back the waters for another 12 months, but then they have to sell a dream, especially at election time.

That this country now has the potential to economically collapse and slide into a poverty and enforced repression not seen on these shores since the middle ages would not be an over simplification of a very serious but plausible process. The legislation is already there.

So as Libertarians we must adapt with it. We must live with it but we oppose it, we must work to chip away and expose at every opportunity, we should work inside the bigger political parties and organisations, we should stand in local and county elections where we can reach and properly address more people at a time, we should undertake committee and advisory roles in quangos, charities and agencies, we will take jobs or open businesses where we can influence how current policies are implemented to limit their totalitarian impact, and we must reclaim our places of learning from the Fabians indoctrination.  We will continue to prepare our policies and processes, and at the same time continue to give out the message of how a free and Liberating alternative form of consensual government would take shape.

We may even have to mimic the methods of the past, some of which have been used against us, we may become the new Samizdat, the moles and fifth columnists inside the establishment until the public are ready, because it is the public at large who decide, as they will, as they have with every totalitarian regime, that it is they who have had enough.

I feel in my bones that we are approaching the end of an epoch, an ending of the way things once were, the comfort of continuity. I do not sense whether it will be spectacularly quick or drawn out and so more painful to watch the demise, nor do I know whether life after that ending will be better or worse. Much like reaching the edge of the universe, after having travelled for so long with the familiar, a sense of apprehension pervades everything as no-one knows quite what, if anything, lays ahead.

But I do believe in people, their natural goodness, their belief and understanding in right and wrong and their inherent libertarian nature. I have seen too many nations finally taken back by their populations to think otherwise. Eventually it will happen here too.

Until then, time, patience and an unswerving determination to roll back an overbearing and intrusive state will be our greatest strength, and those of a Libertarian disposition will be ready.

Update:

For the avoidance of confusion, I refer to countries that have been taken back by their own populations, in this I mean countries such as, but not limited to, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, East Germany and the Ukraine.

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About IanPJ

Ian Parker-Joseph, former Leader of the Libertarian Party UK, who currently heads PDPS Internet Hosting and the Personal Deed Poll Services company, has been an IT industry professional for over 20 years, providing Business Consulting, Programme and Project Management, specialising in the recovery of Projects that have failed in a process driven world. Ian’s experience is not limited to the UK, and he has successfully delivered projects in the Middle East, Africa, US, Russia, Poland, France and Germany. Working within different cultures, Ian has occupied high profile roles within multi-nationals such as Nortel and Cable & Wireless. These experiences have given Ian an excellent insight into world events, and the way that they can shape our own national future. His extensive overseas experiences have made him all too aware of how the UK interacts with its near neighbours, its place in the Commonwealth, and how our nation fits into the wider world. He is determined to rebuild many of the friendships and commercial relationships with other nations that have been sadly neglected over the years, and would like to see greater energy and food security in these countries, for the benefit of all. Ian is a vocal advocate of small government, individual freedom, low taxation and a minimum of regulation. Ian believes deeply and passionately in freedom and independence in all areas of life, and is now bringing his professional experiences to bear in the world of politics.
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11 Responses to Beyond May7th – Keeping Liberty alive

  1. Few are letting on how f**ked we really are, even after May 7th.

    • Far too few. I would hope in the very near future that those who have the ability and means, such as the press, start to be far more open with the public, and begin to reflect the real situation we find ourselves in rather than simply publishing the pre-prepared political spin in the articles they print.

  2. Andrew Withers (LPUK) says:

    So as Libertarians we must adapt with it. We must live with it but we oppose it, we must work to chip away and expose at every opportunity, we should work inside the bigger political parties and organisations, we should stand in local and county elections where we can reach and properly address more people at a time, we should undertake committee and advisory roles in quangos, charities and agencies, we will take jobs or open businesses where we can influence how current policies are implemented to limit their totalitarian impact,

    I read your piece with interest, unfortunately whilst I agree with you that corrupt empires never prevail against the will of the people, we are not yet at the state of rioting on the streets as they are in Greece led by anarchists, rember in 1848 when Europe was in the thoes of revolution, all we had was the Chartists petition.

    Libertarians have worked inside other parties for twenty-thirty years to absolute no end. Dab Hannan admitted recently that after twenty years he had failed to get his message across. Diito the Lib Dem Libertarians, and the UKIP Libertarians. That is a failed and flawed projet.

    I do not care if the Libertarian candidates get 39 votes each again, because some of us will just keep plugging away year after year after year, exposing the self evident Stasi State. Neither do I fear the ridicule and derision

    Some of us may not be able to do that inside of the country, but to embrace the State is to to risk being corrupted by it, through familiarity.

    Libertarians have a tendancy to be intellectually aloof, I agree that has to stop and engage with increasingly desperate people, not engage with a State that causes that desperation.

    There is a time slot of about six months in which we could get a form of proportional representation. If the Political Elite try to force through business as usual, they will be forcing through a power to rule that has no legitimacy whatsoever. At that point the die is cast.

    My fear is that the Libertarian movement will be so fragmented riding its hobby horses it will be utterly ineffectual.

    • Andrew, I fervently hope that we never reach the stage where we are faced with the prospect of rioting on the streets, but that it is a real possibility must be faced.

      The next 6 months I agree will be telling, people are expecting things to change after this election, but if that change is only to create yet more regulation and bureaucracy rather than a roll back, that future is going to be somewhat unpredictable.

      As you and I both know, events have always overtaken planning, so somewhere along the line the wider Libertarian movement must have a meeting of minds if it is to become anywhere near being effectual in the future.

      There is always more than one way to skin a cat, and LPUK is part of that wider Libertarian movement, not the totality of it, so we should not simply dismiss the work and effort of others because it has not yet borne fruit.

      However at the moment there are too many still living within their comfort zones, it is only when those zones come under real rather than the presently perceived threat will the commonality of cause within the Libertarian movement become apparent.

  3. Wormit Steve says:

    We have seen this already from the U.S. when Americans thought it couldn’t get any worse and wanted “Change you can believe in”. Thereafter the truth of the situation revealed itself. America walked into a greater totalitarianism then previously known with increased legislation, policies and practices.

    Ian is correct that LPUK is part of a growing Libertarian movement. We see it in such grass roots campaigns as TPA and many others. Many who previously thought twice of speaking up or out now raise their voice in defiance and challenge those supposedly there to represent.

    Like many areas of life for people… when pushed just far enough they begin to react. People are waking up to just how far things have gotten and are going. Politicians cannot remain silent for long and the fullness of the situation should present itself just after the honeymoon period.

  4. andrew withers says:

    The lpuk is only part of a much wider movement agreed

    The savage cuts that need to carried either at the behest of the IMF or done voluntarily
    Will meet resistance from.the left

    I heard the first call for a national government from shirley williiams. Ever the sweet old fabian

    This not going to pleasant

  5. Ethernator says:

    Easy:

    Baking my own bread
    Brewing my own beer
    Gardening
    Swimming
    Breathing
    Cycling
    Painting & Drawing
    Playing an instrument
    Singing

    I could go on…

    I do accept that these are not absolutely vital activities (ok breathing may be), however the point is you diminish your otherwise well made analysis by attempting in pointless headline grabbing.

    • Except…..

      Baking your own Bread – all regulated ingredients. Even if you grow your own wheat and grind it for flour, you would have to register that you grow wheat with DfES. Same goes for Brewing your own beer.

      Swimming – depends on where you swim, even a pool in your own back yard requires planning permission.

      Breathing – probably free for the time being, but just wait until all the ‘green’ taxes and regulations in store from the EU filter through.

      Cycling – Unless you build your own cycle from scratch, all retail cycles have to conform to a plethora of H&S standards. Then there are restrictions on where you can cycle, as some have found out risk being arrested under Terrorism laws if found in the ‘wrong’ place.

      Drawing – Try drawing a cartoon of Mohamed..

      Playing an Instrument – Again, depends on when and where, because you could risk getting an ASBO or fined under public entertainment laws.

      Good try but….I’m sorry to say that I find your flippant dismissal of the level of totalitarian control in the UK sad, just sad.

  6. Ethernator says:

    Me flippant? You posed the question, my point being the question’s flippancy detracted from an otherwise fine article.

    Your analysis of my responses was equally flippant – and ever so slightly strained.

  7. Dave M says:

    First time I have visited this site. I like what you say.

    I am strongly anti-EU (and Big government) and think this article paints a very clear picture.

    Hope you do not mind if I borrow some points ? Most people) as you suggest will only accept the truth in small doses and would not read the whole piece. It is so sad to see how people accept the destruction of their freedom.

    I wish you well !

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