Monday, August 02, 2004

Not Our Mates

I trust everyone has heard the story of the philosopher and the socialite ? Basically, they meet at a party and the philosopher says 'If I give you £1 million, will you sleep with me ?', the socialite says 'OK', at which point the bearded one says 'How about £10 ?' and the socialite says '£10, you think I'm some kind of prostitute ?' then the philosopher says 'We've already established that, we're just arguing about price'.

That's pretty much how I feel about Libertarians. They flounce round denouncing everyone else as dirty sluts just waiting to crawl into bed with Big Government, but when it all comes down the line they're perfectly prepared to go all the way with the right issue.

Of course, this isn't always a bad thing. Sean Gabb, who in most other respects is an uber-libertarian, is nevertheless prepared to talk openly about the benefits of monarchy. This pragmatic readiness to embrace an institution that works rather than hare off in pursuit of some utopian ideal is the type of thing that almost deludes some Conservatives into thinking of Libertarians as ideological allies. Nevertheless, the Libertarians ability to climb into bed with the State cuts both ways. Take this example from Samizdata. Yowser, he wants the power of the State to be deployed to remake marriage into a Lefty ideal. Hey - I'm against ID cards, but I think making everyone wear a card round their neck counts lower down the scale than having the State try to redefine 'family'. But no - smashing traditional morality turns out to be the million pound note for these guys.

Excessive consistancy in ideology is a sign of madness, but for a group of people who use the word 'statist' as often, and for the same reasons, as Liberals use 'racist', there's a degree of humbuggery in their readiness to use the power of the sword when it's their ox being gored. May I suggest a new working definition for Libertarians: people who oppose the role of the State in things they don't care about anyway.

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