Free Life Commentary,
an independent journal of comment
published on the Internet

Issue Number 98
7th April 2003

Why Tony Blair Must be Destroyed:
A Conservative Case
by Sean Gabb

The Friday before this war started, I had dinner with some friends, where I was forced to defend my bitter dislike of Tony Blair. At the moment, nothing could be easier. The front page of my newspaper today carries one of the most disgusting photographs I have ever seen. It is of Ali Ismael Abbas, a 12 year old boy in Baghdad who had his arms blown off in a rocket attack at the weekend. His lower body appears to have been burned all over, and the smile on his face is probably the effect of the opiate he was given to block the pain. The rocket that did this may have been fired by the Americans - or even, though I doubt if they now have the means, by the Iraqis. But thanks to Mr Blair, we share in the corporate responsibility. Because of his joining us in the "coalition of the willing", it is partly in our name that this boy has had his life destroyed. Killing and maiming are always bad. I doubt at present if they can ever be right. Certainly, unless absolutely necessary, they are wrong. For me, that is reason enough for the most envenomed hatred.

However, the question was asked of me before the war started, when my opinion of Mr Blair was already fixed. This beastly war aside, what do I so dislike about him?

I will begin by conceding that my usual complaints about his domestic policies do not in themselves justify such positive loathing. Yes, he has integrated this country further into the European Union since he came to power. Yes, his other domestic policies have been directed to the creation of a sinister police state. He has done all this and is to be blamed for it. Even so, is there anyone to replace him who would not have done, or would not continue to do, very much the same?

Forget their claims, unconvincing as they are. The Conservatives are just as committed in reality to the European project. They got us into it, and have said nothing to indicate they would get us out. If possible, they are even more committed to the American alliance than Labour. Indeed, I suspect they would have us pressing on with the Americans to Damascus and Teheran, whereas many of the present Ministers seem to want this horror over for us as quickly as the soldiers can be marched out of Basra.

As for all the police state laws, these the Conservatives have failed efficiently to oppose during the past six years, or have even supported. Nor let it be forgotten that it was the Conservatives who began to demolish the Constitution when they were last in power. Can we hope for any better from them? I rather think not.

How, then, about the most likely Labour replacements of Mr Blair - Gordon Brown and David Blunkett? Would they be any better? Again, not. Mr Blunkett is hard at work outdoing both Michael Howard and Jack Straw in the attack on due process. Mr Brown might be slightly less friendly to European integration, but this cannot be taken for granted; and he seems to lack Mr Blair's belief in the marketising of public services, which is about his only worthwhile achievement.

So why hate the man? What is there to justify wanting him replaced by people who might only differ for the worst, if they differed at all?

The answer is that Mr Blair is so bad because he is so effective in the work of destruction. Let us compare England with America. The United States has a written constitution. Plainly, this has not preserved American freedom so well as its framers hoped. But at least it draws a visible boundary between what is constitutional and what is not. Everyone can see when a law crosses that boundary; and its clear wording provides a point around which libertarians and conservatives can rally—and can sometimes rally with success. Our own constitution is different. Though it has restrained power for longer than any other, it is not written. We have fundamental laws, but they are not easily perceived, and their breach is hardly ever obvious to those without a detailed legal and historical understanding.

We are free in this country because freedom is part of our constitution as conceived in the wider, old-fashioned sense of the word. It resides in our habits of thought and action. Now, this sort of constitution derives its stability not from the wording of a written document, but from a mass of conservative prejudice. Freedom is generally an administrative inconvenience. It stands in the way of privilege for wealthy business interests. The lack of detailed policing that it requires gives offence to the various moral entrepreneurs who make their way into politics and the media. Considered alone, trial by jury is an expensive and often inaccurate means of deciding guilt. Freedom of the press allows people to say hateful things. Unlike any specific disadvantages, their benefits are hardly ever understood by the mass of people. What keeps them, and all the other freedoms and protections of freedom, reasonably safe is that they are parts of an ancient and general order of things. They are legitimised in the main less by their rightness than by the appearance that they have always existed in this country.

There can be no doubt of the many benefits that have flowed over the centuries from our Constitution. Those Americans who dismiss it as a fraud should bear in mind that their own is barely a quarter as old, and that it is already falling apart. Even so, it is peculiarly open to attack at the margins. The restraints in power in this country are largely customary. They derive their force form the fact that they exist within a web of associations that tie the present to the past. Let these associations be removed, and with them will go the old restraints on power.

That is, for example, why compulsory metrication is so objectionable. Metres are more rational than yards, and probably more useful for most purposes. Compulsion aside, it is the break with the past that is objectionable—especially when the benefits, though undeniable, are not that great. It is the same with renaming writs as claim forms and bailiffs as enforcement agents, with changing the old forms of public address, with rearranging museum displays to make the English past shameful or incomprehensible, and with much more. Individually, these changes may be of no importance. It is their conjunction that is important. Let there be a sufficient conjunction of changes, and the setting within which freedom resides is destroyed. Disconnected from the web of associations in which they have come down to us, valuable protections like trial by jury and habeas corpus can be presented as more rubbish form the past to be cleared away—especially when they can be presented as hindrances to a cheaper and more efficient system of criminal justice. Unlike in America, where the Constitution must first be abolished or plainly turned on its head, we can be led into tyranny along a route where every step can be presented as of no great consequence, and where objectors can be dismissed as pedants or cranks. As Lord Eldon said against the claims for parliamentary reform—and, I am now inclined to think, rightly—"Touch one atom, and the whole is lost".

What makes Mr Blair so dangerous is that he has been able, as no other politician could, to combine systematic destruction of the old order of things with reasonable economic policies in the short term, and to persuade large numbers of people for most of the time that his is not a very radical government. It is a radical government at the cultural level, but his genius has been to conceal this. I had lunch last month with a highly intelligent friend from my university days who announced as if it were an incontestable truth that "Tony Blair is the best Tory Prime Minister this country has ever had". Not so. He is the least Tory. His most honest statement of intent was his speech to the 1999 Labour Conference, in which he attacked "the forces of conservatism". It was so honest that it was soon removed from the Labour Party website. One of my friends at dinner the other week tried to claim that this was really an attack on resistance to change within the public sector. But he is wrong. I looked out the speech on The Guardian website - http://www.guardian.co.uk/lab99/Story/0,2763,202189,00.html. It is a manifesto for destroying every ancient association, so that any conservative defence of freedom—and this is the best one we have, I repeat—becomes impossible. The New Labour project has little to do with overturning the economic settlement imposed by Margaret Thatcher. It is, much rather, a cultural revolution. But his charm—his ability to make radicalism look other than it is—has cast almost a magic spell over much of the English middle class.

That is why I so long for his destruction. No one else in politics would be so able to do what he has done. Take him away, and the spell would be at least weakened. The problem of who should replace him is not, on this analysis, a problem. Anyone will do. Gordon Brown might be more socialist in his economic policies—but he would not so easily seduce the middle class formers of opinion. Iain Duncan Smith might be even less friendly to our remaining civil liberties. Anyone else might be worse is some other respect. But there is no one else in British politics with the same lethal blend of qualities to hide the work of destruction, or to make it seem an improvement on the past.

Of course, the war may have changed this. It has wiped that boyish smile from Mr Blair's face. He has aged ten years in the past six months, and the result is not pretty. From now on, his every appearance in public will be attended by passionate demonstrations. Combine this with the unconcealable effects of his economic policies, and he may have lost his hold over the national mind. Until last year, perhaps, he could be compared to the Lloyd George of 1910—the man of the people standing up to the forces of conservatism. He may now be compared to the Lloyd George of 1922—the dangerous adventurer surrounding himself with all that is corrupt and all that blocks the way back to a gentler and safer and greatly more attractive past. Nothing may ever be easy for him again. Never again may his good intentions be so readily trusted. Perhaps, therefore, we have him where we want him—as the weak leader of a weak government, able to do little more that is bad while we wait for the Conservatives or some other party of replacement to pull itself together.

On the other hand, this is not certain. A Prime Minister in being is still a Prime Minister; and events may always bring a recovery of his standing and power. And though I am not often given to explosions of moral outrage, that photograph will not quickly fade from my memory. I cannot think of it, and of our vicarious role in its production, without wanting to shout obscenities. Let him be replaced, I say, and soon. It matters not who replaces him. His continued residence in Downing Street dirties this country. He is trash, and all I really want at this moment is to know that I shall live long enough to dance on his grave.

Free Life Commentary,
an independent journal of comment
published on the Internet

Issue Number 107
5th June 2003

Farewell to the Lord Chancellor:
A Brief Comment on the Continuing New Labour Revolution
by Sean Gabb

Brian Micklethwait has suggested that I should comment—no matter how briefly—on the announced abolition last week of the office of Lord Chancellor. Being the resident Jeremiah at the Libertarian Alliance, I suppose I have a duty to complain. So I will.

Last Thursday, Tony Blair reshuffled his cabinet. Those Ministers who had performed badly by his standards were dismissed. One of his main loyalists resigned under circumstances that have given rise to much private speculation. Mr Blair then moved some of his remaining Ministers around, and appointed a few more to fill up the gaps.

This is normal practice for a government as old and strained as this one now is. I have lived long enough to see it happen many times before. What makes it worthy of comment is the unexpected changes to the way in which the judiciary is managed. The Lord Chancellor was dismissed, and instead of being refilled, his office has been announced for abolition, its main functions being put out to commission or being eventually regathered into a Ministry of Justice. At the same time, the senior Judges are to lose their seats in the House of Lords and will be given their own Supreme Court over which to preside. The immediate reason is a political crisis for Mr Blair. I cannot know the details, but it is obvious that he is under severe pressure; and the changes may have been meant to draw attention away from the sorry fact that he is running out of loyalists, and that those he has are not very good.

The principle of the changes, though, is not bad in itself. In standard constitutional theory, the Lord Chancellorship is an anomaly. He is a Judge. He appoints all the other Judges. He is the Speaker of the House of Lords. He also sits in the Cabinet as a creature of the Prime Minister. The modern doctrine of the separation of powers—as most notably expressed in the American Constitution - was derived in the 18th century from observation by Montesquieu and de Lolme, among others, of the British Constitution. They plainly did not observe very well.

Of course, there is no reason for correcting an anomaly simply because it is. There is no reason to suppose that any of the potential conflicts of interest for a Lord Chancellor have produced actual evils. Even Lord Irvine, the last holder of the office, was never accused of political bias in his legal functions. He appointed judges with the traditional impartiality, and defended them against attack by his colleagues in the Cabinet. He was similarly impartial in his judgments.

This being said, the potential for conflicts of interest has been greatly increased in the past few years. The steady growth of judicial review since the 1950s, plus the Human Rights Act 1998 - plus the seizure of review powers over primary legislation in the Thoburn case of last year—have transformed the judiciary. Increasingly, the Judges of the civil law are no longer mainly doing justice between subject and subject, but are ruling on the legality of executive actions and even now on the constitutional validity of Acts of Parliament. Leaving the Lord Chancellorship untouched might be dangerous. Evils that in the past were potential, and that as such gave no reason for change, might easily soon become actual. Now that the evolution of our laws is taking us towards a Supreme Court—and bearing in mind that this is an entirely welcome evolution on liberal grounds—the time may already have come for making the Lord Chancellor into something less of a constitutional hybrid. I say this, even if it seems that the present changes have not received proper consideration.

My objection is not to the principle of reform, nor even really to its attendant lack of consideration—this lack can be supplied given reasonable discussion. My objection is to the change of names. There was no good reason to abolish the office of Lord Chancellor. The most fundamental legal reforms in English history were carried though during the third quarter of the 19th century. First, there was the fusion of law and equity. Then there was the setting up of a proper system of law reporting and the movement of the civil courts from Westminster Hall to the New Courts in the Strand. Then there were the Judicature Acts of the 1870s. These abolished the jumble of competing jurisdictions inherited from the middle ages that had made justice into an expensive lottery, and replaced them with a single High Court of Justice divided in its business on rational lines and with a codified procedure. In its substance, what the Government announced last week is nothing compared with this.

Yet, for all its radicalism, the Victorian reformers did all they could to preserve the old associations. Even if the substance was entirely replaced, the names of Queen's Bench and Chancery were retained. The New Courts were built to look old. Within a generation, I doubt if anyone but a legal historian really noticed what had been done. The present set of reforms is quite different in its regard for old associations. A few years ago, writs became claim forms and plaintiffs became claimants. There are proposals to stop the Judges from wearing their horsehair wigs. Now, there is to be no Lord Chancellor. The office has existed in England for at least 800 years, and began as a sort of secretaryship to the King. It is older than Parliament. Thomas Beckett was Lord Chancellor to Henry II. Thomas More was Lord Chancellor for Henry VIII. The office was satirised in Iolanthe. It has always been around in English history, and its holders have been some of the great men of English history. Even before the proposed abolition, the cumulative effect of these reforms has been to advertise a break with the past. Let another generation go by, and only a legal historian will be able to understand the mass of obsolete words contained in law reports from before the present century. Threads of continuity will have been snapped. The past will seem more of a foreign country than is needed.

That is my objection. It may seem trifling to argue over words and appearances, but these are part of our national identity. These are part of what of what it means to be an Englishman. They help to tell us who we are and what we were. Had our history been as unfortunate as that of most other European countries in the 20th century—and usually before—it might not be bad to advertise a break with the past. Throughout the old Soviet Empire, for example, I can think of no objection to the renaming of towns and streets during the 1990s, to the pulling down of statues and to the restructuring of the functions and the names of political institutions. But, as I keep insisting, the most important protection of English liberty is the apparent continuity of our institutions. Take away our grounds for conservatism, and we are left with a set of new institutions that may have a splendid future, but which are now too evidently new to attract the unthinking loyalty that is their surest source of strength.

I could be wrong, but I believe there is a conspiracy among our political masters to destroy our national identity and with it our ancient freedoms. I say I could be wrong because I remember the absurd conspiracy theories put forward in the 1980s by the opponents of Margaret Thatcher. Socialists like Ruth Levita and Martin Jacques claimed there was a coherent project to bring about a "free market and a strong state". Except there was little actual freeing of markets, this was an accurate description of what happened in the 1980s. It was, however, an unintended consequence. Thatcherism was never a coherent ideology, but was instead a muddle of quite separate ideologies. There were the free market libertarians, the traditionalist conservatives, the middle way social democrats, the social authoritarians. These all got part of what they wanted, though in a pretty random way, and the result was the toughened big government machine that New Labour eventually inherited.

Perhaps the same reductionist analysis can be applied to all that has been done since 1997. Perhaps there is no New Labour project. Certainly, there is no unity within the Government on the main issues of the day. We have seen them fall out over the war with Iraq and the Euro.

But while I could be wrong, I do believe there is more here than just a set of unintended outcomes. This is a government above all of philosophes. For all it has put up taxes and increased the burden of regulations, this is not a socialist government. Considered in themselves, many of its acts have been rather liberal—always granting that many other have not. It passed the Human rights Act. It accepted the judicial coup announced in the Thoburn judgment. It has been no more friendly in practice to the claims of the European Union than the Conservatives were in office. It has tried to reform the public services on market principles—and if it has failed in this, it is because of a deference to vested interests and a lack of economic understanding for which it may be fairly blamed but not denounced.

The general problem is that the New Labour turn of mind is frankly contemptuous of the past. Mr Blair's "forces of conservatism" speech in 1999 was an accurate expression of how these people regard the English past. They want a New Britain, and regard all that is left of old England as an embarrassment to be cleared away as soon as possible. Some New Labour people, I accept, have the fairest intentions. I have eaten with these people. They often have more sympathy for libertarian concerns than Conservatives have ever had. But many of their seniors are malevolent. They have no liking for liberties whether ancient or modern. They want a politically correct police state and a corporatised economy. Ordinary people are to have the appearance of freedom, but little of its substance, and the world is to be made safe for an elite of politicians, big businessmen and their pet intellectuals. What joins these different factions is their contempt of the past. And this is fatal to the benevolent strain within New Labour. By ripping up every old association on which they can lay hands, our masters are turning a nation into a frightened mob. They may be doing to us what the revolutionary governments did to France after 1789. And, while the men of 1789 had some excuse for not understanding the consequences of their remodelling, their modern successors have no excuse.

I note with surprised approval that the Conservatives have rejected the abolition of the Lord Chancellorship. They have decided to leave their existing system of shadow portfolios, complete with a shadow Lord Chancellor. They seem committed to undoing the abolition once they are back in office. I am glad. Generally speaking, I have been reasonably impressed by the Conservative performance over the past few months. The strategy of revival that I thought I could see in the spring and summer of last year has re-emerged, and this time in opposition to a much weaker and more discredited Government than was the case last year.

But this is another matter.

Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 197
23rd September 2010

David Miliband and the Labour Party:
A Suicide Pact Made in Heaven?
by Sean Gabb

I have written very little this year on politics. This is not a product of idleness. Nor does it show any fading of interest. The reason is that I have been hard at work on two other projects. These will, I hope, advance the cultural agenda of our Movement. I hope they will also help save my daughter from the trouble of having to work for a living. But they are now finished. Next week, or the week after, I must begin another, and this will again take me partly out of immediate circulation. For the moment, though, I have both time and inclination to write about politics.

Who Should Lead the Labour Party?

I will begin by looking at the election of a new leader for the Labour Party. The voting came to an end late yesterday afternoon, the 22nd September 2010. The result will be declared on Saturday the 25th. I am too late, therefore, to try influencing the outcome – not, of course, that my recommendations would have had any influence on those able to vote. What I can do is to explain which of the five candidates is most likely to serve the interests of England. To be specific, which of the five is most likely to diminish the chance that Labour will ever win another general election?

I will dismiss Ed Balls and Andy Burham out of hand. There is no point in denouncing them as sordid apparatchiks – as principals and as willing accomplices in treason and tyranny. All five are that. No one who has sat steaming for any length of time on the dung heap that is New Labour can be regarded as other than a beast in human form. Their disqualification from our point of view is that they are both white and English. This means that, with careful presentation, they can be dressed up as champions of the common man. Since, even with a better government than we currently have, the next few years will be difficult, we cannot afford a credible Labour response to the inflation and unemployment that are the results of the artificial boom engineered by Gordon Brown.

I will also dismiss Diane Abbott. Many people tell me that a black woman cannot become Prime Minister in England. I am not too sure of this. There is, I have no doubt, much more colour prejudice in this country than fear of the law and fear of informal penalties will allow to be expressed. At the same time, I doubt if there is enough colour prejudice to stop her from being an effective party leader. We must consider that, unlike all the other candidates, she does look like a normal human being. Her opinions may be both stupid and malevolent. But she always manages to look good on television. At the same time, she could count on the undivided support of non-white voters that Mr Obama found so useful in America. And there are just as many middle class fools in this country as in America who would think that supporting a black politician was atonement for the past five billion years of white racism. We cannot afford Diane Abbott. She may be less dangerous than Messrs Balls and Burnham. Still, she is, in terms of her own abilities, and in terms of the coalition of forces that would gather round her, too dangerous to consider.

This leaves us with the two Miliband brothers. And these are certainly worth considering. They have the great advantage for us of being Jewish. Now, while there are Jewish organisations that get money and support by insisting that England is two steps from our own Kristallnacht, I doubt if many English people have even noticed the shape of the Miliband noses. Of those who have noticed, I doubt if more than a few thousand think ill of it. Native anti-semitism is so rare that it has to be hunted out, where not actually fabricated. And do bear in mind that the British National Party, which is our largest white nationalist organisation, welcomes Jewish members and is vaguely pro-Israel in its foreign policy. However, the non-white population is solidly anti-semitic. Moslems, black Christians, whatever – they largely hate Jews with a ferocity not known in England since the middle ages.

It may be disagreeable that we must share a country with such people. But it would be rather funny to see Labour hoist by its own petard. After 1997, Labour Governments knowingly encouraged the immigration of between seven and ten million non-whites into this country. They did so because it accelerated the upward redistribution of wealth to which modern ruling classes are all committed. They did so because it helped break up the solidarity of the ruled that is another ruling class project. They also did so because they believed that the new arrivals, once they had been waved through the citizenship formalities, would mostly vote Labour. And they will – so long as an English or a Scotch man or a black woman is in charge. They will not vote, I think, for a Labour Party led by a Jew. And this is regardless of how seldom either Miliband goes into a synagogue, and regardless of how little public enthusiasm either has shown for Israel.

This will be still more the case if the Liberals get the electoral reform that the Conservatives may not be able to deny them. So far, the two main parties have been held together by the iron logic of the first past the post system. I, for example, voted Conservative in this year’s election not because I thought David Cameron would be a good Prime Minister – but because the Conservatives were the only force able to get Labour out of office. I normally vote for the UK Independence Party. I would, in other than general elections, and if a candidate were to stand where I live, vote for the Libertarian Party. But I voted Conservative in the general election because not to vote Conservative would have risked another Labour Government.

It is the same with non-white electors. They might swallow their prejudices and vote for a Labour Party led by a Jew if the alternative was to let in a Conservative Government. But the alternative vote system will allow them to give their first preferences to Islamic and black nationalist parties. Their second preferences might be enough for Labour. But the loss of first preferences might be enough to keep Labour from ever winning a majority of the English seats. And the accompanying redistribution of seats would make Scotch votes far less important than they have been.

And so, my prayers are with the Milibands. I should now say, though, which of the two brothers I prefer. My preference is for David. His brother, Ed, has several disadvantages from our point of view. He was not in Parliament when his Party voted to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has distanced himself from these atrocities. He has also accepted that identity cards and other police state laws were not entirely good things. Worse, he was Environment Secretary in the Brown Government, and always gave the impression of believing the drivel he was given to read out in public. He looks thick – but a visible lack of intelligence has never been a disadvantage in English politics. Apparent sincerity has always weighed more than cleverness.

David Miliband, however, is irremediably tainted with all the horrors of the Blair and Brown regime. He supported those wars. He supported every police state law that was brought forward. And he has all the commitment in his speaking manner of a Kremlin teleprinter. He looks thick. If we leave aside his ability to crawl nearly to the top of the Labour dung heap, he probably is thick. But, where his brother does not, he also manages to look like a supercilious fraud. I do hope he wins. Indeed, I am so convinced he would be the right man for the job, that I did briefly think of handing over a £1 joining fee to the Labour Party in order to vote for him. With David Miliband in charge, we might hope for a repeat at the next election of Labour’s 1983 performance.

The Worthless Conservatives

Now, here I must say, as clearly as I can, that, I do not want a melt-down of Labour support because it might give a clear run to the Conservatives. The reason I want the Labour Party to vanish up its own bottom is because this enables our own attack on the Conservative Party.

I welcomed the present Coalition Government in May because it was not Labour. I am grateful for the limited return since then to constitutional government. Of course, I was pleased when the new Home Secretary told the police that they could not stop people at random in the street for searches and questions. I am delighted that the Government has abolished identity cards and shut down the National Identity Register that was supposed ultimately to store every last details of our lives – including DNA samples – so we could never again live privately in freedom, and never again remake ourselves. I hope that the unequal extradition treaty with America will be amended, and that the European Arrest Warrants will be made harder to enforce that has so far been the case. I look forward to many other retreats from the Labour police state.

Even so, David Cameron does not preside over a government of reaction. Unlike in 1660, there will be no legislative voiding of the previous revolution. The multicultural agenda has been left untouched, and natives will continue to suffer official discrimination and censorship. The most malevolent agencies of the Labour State will not be closed down. There is no chance that we shall leave the European Union. As for the cuts in government spending we have been promised, these will not abolish the clientage to which millions of people have been reduced. I cannot be bothered to go through the numbers. I am, however, assured that, in real terms, the British State will spend more next year – after the Osborne “cuts” have begun – than it did in 2005, when Gordon Brown was bribing us with our own money to keep him and Tony Blair in office. If there are cuts, these will be felt by ordinary people, who will not get the state healthcare and pensions and education they were promised. The bureaucracies that meddle in the smallest details of our lives will be left mostly intact. Above all, perhaps, the new Ministers are at least as committed as the old to the “climate change" hoax. While enriching and legitimising the ruling class, this threatens ordinary people with impoverishment and slavery on a scale that makes the totalitarianisms of the last century almost benevolent.

Conservative Members of Parliament have told me, in private, that this is not a purely Conservative Government, and that nothing can be done without the consent of their Liberal Democrat partners. There is something in what they say. Like most other people, I had never paid much attention to our third party. Since it was never likely to get into government, there was no point investigating its stated or actual beliefs. I did think, nevertheless, that its economics were broadly mutualist, or even Georgist, with a dash of Keynes. I was wrong. I am not sure who does vote Liberal Democrat. But its Ministers are behaving in office as if they were just as much the representatives of public sector employees as the Labour Party. They are state socialists without New Labour’s stiffening of ex-Communists.

But, if there is something in what my Conservative friends tell me, it is also true that a purely Conservative Government would have been hardly any different to what we have. I never believed that a Cameron majority would result in a government of reaction. I did believe that withdrawal from the European Union would be firmly ruled out by Mr Cameron, and that he would buy off most complaints from within his party by keeping identity cards. At least this has not been necessary. It is, however, undeniable that the Government we have is committed to working within the terms set by Tony Blair before he went barking mad.

I repeat – I welcome many things that have been done, and that are yet to be done, by the Coalition. This does not make me a supporter of the Coalition. The lesser of two evils is less evil – but it is also still evil.

Do you remember the Thermidore Reaction? That was when the French Jacobins were rounded up and sent to their own guillotine or packed off somewhere nasty to die of yellow fever. Do you remember the Soviet de-Stalinisation of the 1950s? That was when the Gulag was slimmed down a little, and there were private mutterings that Stalin himself had gone a little too far. Well, to speak in these terms about England may seem hyperbolic. But we really are living through our own equivalent of these reactions. Labour’s revolutionary terror is being wound down. But the revolution itself remains the governing consensus. No one presently in or near office has the slightest inclination to return us to a situation where we can call ourselves the free citizens of an independent country.

I do not believe there is any chance in the short term or a genuine reaction. One of the commenters on the LA Blog tells me of his plan for a violent overthrow of the Establishment, to be followed by the trial and execution of perhaps ten thousand traitors and other class enemies. But I am not at all persuaded that violence is either desirable or possible. Other people tell me that we should give all assistance to some other party that may then get elected. But I am hardly more persuaded that any of the alternative parties currently on offer is up to winning a general election. If we are to get out of our present mess, it must be after a process of delegitimisation that will include destroying the Conservative Party. Only then will some other force emerge that may restore something like the old order – or create a new order that will serve something like the same purpose.

What Do We Want?

Oh – I see I have just used the phrase “new order”. I could change this to avoid the pointing of Marxoid fingers. Instead, I will make it an excuse to spell out what I actually want. I want to live in a country where everyone has freedom of speech and association, and where justly-acquired property is secure from confiscation and can be freely enjoyed. In such a country, such government as remains is limited in every exercise of power. It is limited, by a bill of rights, in the laws it can make. It is limited, by strict procedural safeguards, in its enforcement of the laws. There is a clear division between state and voluntary activity, and state activity is small in both nature and extent. In such a country, furthermore, every official is accountable, at one or two legal removes, to the people who pay his salary; and the nation as a whole is free from outside control.

We do not live in such a country. To what extent the old order – the mixed Constitution of Church and State, the hegemony of the landed interest, and so forth – secured these things is worth arguing about elsewhere. It is undeniable that the present order of things, that emerged during the twentieth century, does not. This order is one of growing administrative despotism – a despotism sometimes directed by those holding the traditional offices of state, but just as often by those whose names and even functions are unknown to the people. It is also an order, as said, where wealth is systematically redistributed upwards to those public and formally private interest groups that exist because of state privilege.

The new order that I want – and that I largely believe is wanted across our Movement – is one in which most state agencies will have been shut down, and in which the legal and administrative privileges that maintain big business, the credentialed professions, the centralised media, and all other sinister interests, in existence will have been revoked. This does involve a revolution of one kind or another – a revolution, or a counter-revolution, or just a reaction: call it what you will. But, if the people ever take to the streets to demand change, this will have been preceded by a delegitimisation of the present order of things – just as the ancient régime in France withered after the 1770s, and the traditional autocracy in Russia withered after the 1880s. Long before a visible blow can have been landed against it, this present order of things will have been made incapable of defending itself. Of course, it must - as will every order founded on a denial of human nature - perish from within. But this inevitable fall will have been hastened by our own relentless critique.

I want to live in this kind of new order. If I cannot have it for myself, I want it for my daughter. And if someone important wants to construe my definition of “new order” as evidence that I am a neo-nazi terrorist, that only shows how far we currently stand from achieving any of it

Certainly, though, no escape from the present order of things can be easily urged so long as the Labour Party remains a credible danger to what freedom we still have. I can already see the Ministers and their smug Tory boy assistants go about their business, challenging every objection by asking “You wouldn’t want Labour back – would you?” And my own answer is “No, I do not.” I do not want Labour back. Life under Khrushchev is better than life under Stalin. The jeunesse dorée are better than the sight of those hags knitting under the guillotine. Better the Stupid Party than the Evil Party.  And so, while another Labour Government remains more than an outside possibility, the work of counter-revolution cannot be pressed on. It is not to be put on hold, least of all forgotten. But it cannot reasonably claim all our effort.

That is why David Miliband must be our man. I think the worst choice the Labour Party could make – from our point of view – is Ed Balls or Andy Burnham. The best choice really is David Miliband, with his invisible moustache and jerky movements and his inability to do other than defend every monstrous act of the Blair and Brown Regime. Bearing in mind how we have shambled through the past thousand years of our history, England has been an astonishingly lucky nation. Let us hope, this coming Saturday, that our luck will hold.

Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 195
17th June 2010

Reflections on the 2010 Conference of the
Property and Freedom Society
by Sean Gabb

I have never bothered asking what persuaded Hans-Hermann Hoppe to invite me to the first conference of the Property and Freedom Society in 2006. I received his invitation in about the February of 2006. It looked interesting – not least because it was to be held in Bodrum, which is the modern Turkish name for Halicarnassus, the birthplace of Herodotus and otherwise famous for its Greek theatre and the remains of the great Mausoleum. However, Chris Tame was dying in hospital, and I decided that my place was at his side.

“Oh no, it isn’t,” Chris answered from his bed. He sat up and stabbed at the print-out of the invitation. “I’ll be dead long before May. Whatever the case, you’d be mad to turn this one down.” He took me through the names listed in the invitation, pointing out their eminence within the conservative and libertarian movements. Finally, he reminded me of the key importance of Professor Hoppe within both movements, and his importance in his own right as an economist and philosopher. It was my duty to attend, Chris announced. If he were not confined to his death bed, he would go with me.

And so – Chris now dead, just as he had predicted – I set out in the May of 2006 for Bodrum. I wrote a longish account at the time of this first conference of the Property and Freedom Society, and see no reason to say more about it now. But Chris was right. It was a significant event in my life. Until then, I had long admired from a distance, but never met, men like Professor Hoppe and Paul Gottfried and Stephan Kinsella. Now, in the luxurious surroundings of the Hotel Karia Princess, and in the perfect weather of the Eastern Mediterranean, I could sit down to dinner with them and get to know them. I was invited back the following year, and the year after that, and the year after that. Last week, I went again, and can report that this fifth conference was every bit as interesting and productive as all the others.

PFS 2010 - Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Welcoming Remarks. The PFS - After Five Years
from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.

Because I made video recordings of all the public proceedings, I do not need to give a close account of all the speeches. They will, in the next week, all be uploaded to the usual place for anyone to see. But it is worth discussing professor Hoppe’s opening speech, The Property and Freedom Society: Reflections After Five Years – now published by the Libertarian Alliance as Personal Perspectives, No.25. In this, he explains why he set up the Property and Freedom Society and what he hopes it to achieve. He begins with a critique of the mainstream libertarian and conservatives institutes. It is, for example, now 63 years since the first meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, and it is hard to see what good this has achieved. F.A. Hayek cannot be wholly blamed for its failure, since he was never wholly in charge. But it was, from the start, a place where limited statists were able to mingle with avowed advocates and beneficiaries of fiat law and paper money. And any scheme for limiting either of these is impossible in principle and has failed in practice. The tendency of fiat law is to become ever more arbitrary and burdensome. The tendency of paper money is semi-permanent inflation. Both are means for the ruling class to tighten its control on society. The State cannot be limited. At best, those directing it can be persuaded to pick and choose among various schemes for making their control easier or less immediately destructive.

The very success of organisations like the Mont Pelerin Society to engage with governments is a sign of their failure. In the past, ruling classes were able to neutralise the far more potent threat to their control posed by religion. They have used much the same methods to deal with the limited state movements. As with the churches, they have been bribed and flattered into moderating their critique of the State, and even co-opted as some kind of intellectual fig leaf.

Professor Hoppe saw this clearly in the 1990s, when he attended three meetings of the Mont Pelerin Society. These were filled with politicians and central bankers and general clients of the ruling class. There was no discussion allowed of the American State’s military aggressions, or of its monetary corruptions, or of the multicultural discourse that is the main current legitimation ideology of the State. His own attacks on democracy and support for constitutional monarchy were considered scandalous and “confrontational”, and he has not bothered going back.

His experience of the John Randolph Club was slightly more positive. This was largely a Murray Rothbard front organisation, where conservatives and libertarians were able to come together and discuss their equal, of sometimes different, objections to unlimited state power. It was also a place where members of each movement could learn from the other. Libertarians, for example, could overcome the indifference to the cultural and historical underpinnings of liberty that often proceeds from their emphasis on economics. In turn, the conservatives could learn some true economics.

Ultimately, though, the John Randolph Club fell apart because of the failure of many of its conservative members to radicalise. They were never able to put aside their fantasy of somehow capturing the institutions of an extended state and using these to impose a conservative authoritarianism. And they would not reconsider their support of stupid economic policies like protectionism and soft money.

It was on account of his disappointment with even the least useless of the other policy institutes he had known that Professor Hoppe decided to set up the Property and Freedom Society. Its purpose was not to engage with the ruling class or its various clients, but to have nothing whatever to do with them. It would exclude politicians and economic illiterates. It would reject the State and all its works. It would instead seek to foster a counter-culture that was opposed both to the State and to the legitimising ideologies of the State that many libertarians have not been able to recognise for what they are. The Property and Freedom Society would provide a space within which representatives from a range of traditions would be able to discuss the principles of a free market natural order, and to see the State more clearly than is normally possible as nothing more than a gang of bandits surrounded by various applause societies and useful idiots.

The Property and Freedom Society was conceived as a kind of salon – a place where intellectuals from various traditions could come together as friends, and share and harden their own opposition to the State and its legitimising ideologies. Presided over by him and by his wife Gülcin Imre, the Salon Hoppe would surely have it impact on the movement, and on the world at large.

This was the essence of Professor Hoppe’s opening speech. And his movement has been a success in the way that he intended. Its public proceedings are the speeches, and I am glad that I have been able to help make these available by making video recordings of them and putting them on the Internet. I regret that my recordings of the first two conferences were incomplete. I also regret that my fuller recordings of the next two were marred by technical incompetence. Some of these have adequate sound, but many are hard to follow, either because I relied on the internal microphone of my video camera, or because I was ignorant of how to place an external microphone. This year, I am happy to say, I was more successful. All the speeches have adequate sound, and many have good sound. A problem I have not been able to overcome is that, outside of England – in both Turkey and Slovakia – recording on mains power with an external microphone is inseparable from a feedback hum. The morning sessions I was able to record on battery only, with partial recharges during the coffee breaks. Afternoon sessions required mains power. I can filter out much of the feedback hum, but cannot wholly eliminate it. Whatever the case, the speeches all have clear sound, and I shall eventually buy additional batteries or a better video camera.

        

PFS 2010 - Mustafa Akyol, Are Islam and Capitalism Compatible? from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.

But, as said, because they have all been recorded, I do not need to describe the speeches. If I have to acknowledge any star of the conference, I suppose it would be Mustafa Akyol, on Islam and Capitalism. He is a Turkish journalist who is completely fluent in English, and is a libertarian, and, it seems, is a fairly devout Moslem. His speech is an informed response to the frequent claim in the West that Islam is a religion only for men with frightening beards and wild eyes and a taste for suicide bombings. It is not. If is, of course, The Other – the historic enemy of Christendom, that subdued three quarters of what had been the Roman Empire, and came close more than once to taking the last quarter. No one who is not of that Faith can take a sentimental view of Islam. At the same time, Islam produced a great and often admirable civilisation that had room for much intellectual freedom and for extended commerce. If the accidents of immigration have made Islam in Europe a religion for displaced peasants with lavish funding from Saudi puritans, that does not make Islam in the wider sense other than a religion compatible with as high a degree of enlightenment as Christianity. Islam is compatible with a free market order. The development of a market system in Turkey has been associated with a recovery of Islam in the public sphere, and this must be recognised by anyone who wants to see through the fog of propaganda that has been raised to lead us into another world war.

I liked Paul Gottfried on Herbert Marcuse, and on Marxism in general. I liked Olivier Richard on the economics of inflation. And I liked everything else. To single anyone out other than Professor Hoppe and Mr Akyol would be – as I keep saying – superfluous, bearing in mind that everything is on-line, and unfair to the other speakers.

Naturally, this does not prevent me from mentioning my own speech. I was asked to speak about the Second World War and why it should have been avoided. I did this rather well. Mrs Gabb, who came into the conference room to watch me, was not impressed. She said it all sounded too much like an advertisement for the novels of Richard Blake. But I have watched my speech twice now on video, and I still think it was rather good. I dislike reading from a text. Even without one, my voice tends to dullness, and my general delivery is wooden. Since I can speak fluently enough without, I like to avoid having either a text or notes in front of me. At the same time, I do like – other commitments allowing – to produce a text in advance. This lets me lay down the structure of what I want to say. It also removes any suspicion that I have just turned up without any preparation to deliver a speech that is only clear by accident.

    

PFS 2010 - Sean Gabb on the Second World War from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.

Because both text and video are available, I will not go again over the main part of what I said. What I do think worth mentioning is the point that came into my head for the last five minutes of the speech. This is the lack of any sustained cultural production within the conservative and libertarian movements. We have always been strong on analysis and criticism. We have our philosophers and economists and historians, and these are among the best. We are not wholly without our novelists and musicians and artists. But we have not so far excelled in cultural production, and have mostly not considered this of comparable importance to uncovering and explaining the workings of a natural order. So far as this has been the case, however, we have been mistaken.

The socialist takeover of the English mind during the early 20th century was only in part the achievement of the Webbs and J.A. Hobson and E.H. Carr and Harold Laski and Douglas Jay, and all the others of their kind. They were important, and if they had no written as they did, there would have been no takeover. But for every one who read these, there were tens or hundreds who read and were captured by Shaw and Wells and Galsworthy and Richard Llewellyn, among others. These were men who transmitted the socialist cases to a much wider audience. Just as importantly, where they did not directly transmit, they helped bring about a change in the climate of opinion so that propositions that were rejected out of hand by most thoughtful men in the 1890s could become the received wisdom of the 1940s. They achieved a similar effect in the United States, and were supplemented there by writers like Howard Fast, and, of course, by the Hollywood film industry.

More recently in England, the effect of television soap operas like Eastenders has been immense and profound. Their writers have taken the dense and often incomprehensible writings of the neo-Marxists and presented them as a set of hidden assumptions that have transformed the English mind since 1980. No one can fully explain the Labour victory of 1997, or the ease with which law and administration were transformed even before them, without reference to popular culture.

I do not wish to disparage novelists like Ayn Rand, who was a libertarian of sorts. At the same time, what I have in mind is not long didactic novels where characters speak for three pages about the evils of central banking. What I do believe we need is good, popular entertainment of our own creation that is based on our own assumptions. I think the most significant objective propagandist of my lifetime for the libertarian and conservative cause was the historical novelist Patrick O’Brian. I have read all his historical novels, some more than once, and I do not think he ever sets out an explicit case against the modern order of things. What he does instead is to create a world – that may once have existed largely as he describes it – that works on different assumptions from our own. If this world is often unattractive on account of its poverty and brutality, its settled emphasis on tradition and on personal freedom and responsibility has probably done more to spread the truth than the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute of Economic Ideas combined.

I would never claim that Richard Blake is in the same league as Patrick O’Brian. But he is significant so far as he is a libertarian novelist who has managed to find a mainstream publisher. His latest novel, Blood of Alexandria, is still more explicitly libertarian than his others, and he deserves all the encouragement that our movement can provide. Indeed, someone else who deserves our encouragement is Jan Lester, one of the most significant figures in the Libertarian Alliance and in the Libertarian Alliance – yes, this is not one of my typing mistakes! The Libertarian Alliance has just published his play, The Naked Politician, as Philosophical Notes, No.82. This needs a performance. Anyone who can help with this is doing the cause of right, truth and justice as great a service as by funding the distribution of the more abstract works of our movement.

But this really is enough of the public proceedings of the conference. Professor Hoppe spoke of a salon, and this works at least as well through private conversations as through formal speeches. And one of the few rules of the Property and Freedom Society is that there are to be no limits on what anyone cares to discuss over lunch or dinner. Sadly, these were private conversations, and I might find my own conversations in Bodrum far less open and interesting in future if people thought their words were about to be transcribed and published to the world. One part of a long conversation, though I can reveal. I was at dinner with some Turks who explained their bitter humiliation at being kept out of the European Union. They listened patiently to my explanation that they were lucky to have avoided that horrid embrace. Their reply was that it was a matter of national pride. They could put up with being excluded from a club made up of great nations like France and Germany and England. They could accept the inclusion of the Greeks – a matter of historical connection with Europe. But to be passed over in favour of disreputable mafia states like Romania and Bulgaria was too much to be tolerated. If I wanted to understand Turkey’s rising disillusionment with the West, and its recent closeness with the Arab countries of the Middle East, I needed look no further than its rejection by the European Union.

But this is all I think I can say. If you want to know more about them, you will have to go to Bodrum yourself next year!

I should say something now about the location of the Property and Freedom Society conferences. The Hotel Karia Princess is a luxury hotel in one of the quieter parts of Bodrum. It is about a ten minute walk from the harbour and shops of the city, and just a flight of steps away from a discreetly-placed supermarket that is most useful for those things that are not provided by the hotel. With its swimming pool and large garden and its gymnasium and Turkish bath – the hotel is a world in itself, and many guests – some go every year for a month – and conference attendees hardly ever go outside it.

Even if it were not owned and run by libertarians, I would recommend the Hotel Karia Princess for the excellence of its location and the quality of its service. But it is owned and run by libertarians, and I suggest that any libertarian or conservative who is planning a Turkish holiday should consider booking a room here. It has all that anyone could desire for a memorable holiday. My only criticism is the perhaps excessive fondness displayed by the staff during my stay for the Overture to Eine Nacht in Venedig by Johann Strauss, and for the Waltz based on themes from Emmerich Kálmán’s Gräfin Mariza. These were a welcome change from the “elevator music” played in the public areas of other hotels. And there was no coverage at all of the dreadful World Cup. Even so, I might recommend a more balanced repertory of the light classics.

Since all the hyperlinks will be stripped from this article when it is posted out, here are the full details of the hotel:

Hotel Karia Princess
www.kariaprincess.com
Eskiçeşme Mahallesi,
Myndos Caddesi No:8
48400 Bodrum
Turkey
Tel. :+90.252.3168971
Fax : +90.252.3168979
E-mail: reservations@kariaprincess.com

Speaking of Turkey in general, I do most highly recommend the country to the more discriminating traveller. As with Islam, I do not take a sentimental view of the Turks. Historically, they have been implacable advocates of every cause to which they attached themselves. This being said, they have never been other than a brave and honourable race. They are justly proud of their country. To anyone who does not attack Islam or the memory of Kemal Ataturk, and who refrains from going about stark naked in public, they are as straight and welcoming as could possibly be desired. Since I regard Ataturk as a great man – if somewhat flawed – and have no desire to shock the religious sensibilities of others, and am far too modest to expose my flesh to the world, I am not inconvenienced by these limitations.

I cannot speak for those parts of the country remote from the sea. But the parts of Turkey I have seen strike me as entirely safe. The reputation of Turkish drivers is undeserved. On three of my visits with Mrs Gabb, I have hired a car and driven for several thousand miles. I have never once seen an accident, and the other cars are far less battered than in Greece. The main problem on the mountain roads is finding the right points for overtaking the lorries that rumble uphill at about 20mph. On one occasion,, we ran into a giant storm on the mountain roads between Aydin and Mugla. For half an hour, it was like driving in a car wash, and the road was an inch deep in water. But everyone else on the road slowed to a steady crawl and stayed safely in lane.

The beaches within easy reach of Bodrum are mostly either crowded or dirty. The beach at Bitez is both. We spent an hour there, struck by the omnipresent smell of dog mess and the stains on the cushions provided by the local restaurant. Unless you are a lower class Englishman or an elderly German of limited means, my advice is to avoid the place. There is an excellent beach resort outside Fethiye, a few hours south of Bodrum. We arrived rather late in the day, and so had less benefit of the place than we might have liked. Otherwise, boats can be hired for about £200 a day. These will take you to places inaccessible by road, where you can swim in the warm, sparkling sea.

So far as sightseeing is concerned, I am less fond of Ephesus than I ought to be. Though grand, it is normally filled with tourists. We went there in 2007. I enjoyed sitting in the theatre where St Paul preached, and the public toilets have a sociological interest. But it rained hard while we were there, and our most memorable experience was trying not to fall down on the wet marble pavements.

But I do recommend Aphrodisias, about four hours through the mountains from Bodrum, and hardly ever visited. In ancient times, this was the provincial capital of Caria, and its sudden destruction by an earthquake in the 7th century – plus the quality of the marble used for its construction – has left ruins of great freshness and magnificence. The reconstructed gateway to the Temple of Aphrodite is particularly impressive, as is the partially reconstructed Temple of the Emperors. There is also an immense stadium on the outskirts of the city, part of which, I regret to say, was partitioned off in later antiquity for gladiatorial combats.

On all my visits to the ruined cities of what used to be Asia Minor, I have been struck by the great wealth of the region. Judging the wealth of past ages by modern standards is a worthless activity. But I do not think Western Europe had anything until fairly recently to compare with the civic life of the Asiatic Provinces of the Roman Empire. I will not boast about my knowledge of the ancient languages. I have much trouble with reading inscriptions. The ancients never separated words, and used many abbreviations that I am not learned enough to understand. But I was struck by the fact that almost every carved block in Aphrodisias is covered in writing – dedications, funerary inscriptions, public memorials: this was a civilisation based on the written word, and those who carved their words into stone did so in the assurance that their civilisation would last to the end of time. It is both interesting and melancholy to walk streets that once swarmed with people, and to wonder how London or Paris might appear to the travellers of some remote future in which our own civilisation has also passed away.

Because, yet again, we arrived rather late in the day, we had to hurry about the city. We missed the public baths and the theatre. However, we did find time to look in the museum. This is well worth seeing. Perhaps its most interesting exhibit is a statue of a Governor set up in about the year 500. I had never before seen a public statue from so late a time in antiquity, and, though much influenced by the stiffness of Christian art, this shows a strong survival of the classical tradition. For this alone, the trip was worth the drive.

We have been twice to Pamukkale, anciently known as Hierapolis. Both times, we arrived late and without any hope of seeing the whole of what was once a large city – a large city surrounded by one of the biggest cemeteries in the world. Mrs Gabb, on both occasions, was much taken with the limestone deposits that have given the whole site the appearance of a snow field. I was more interested in the bizarre paganism of the city. This was a centre for the worship of Cybele, whose priests would castrate themselves in a religious frenzy. They were notable for their visits to the Plutonium, which is a fissure in the rocks through which poisonous gas escapes. Though more visited than Aphrodisias, This is also far less crowded than Ephesus, and repays a visit.

One day, we shall pay visits to Miletus and to Laodicea. It would also be interesting to find some Turkish towns that have not been stripped of their old charm by modern development.

I could say much more. I could go into detail about the immense hospitality shown by Professor Hoppe and by his wife Gülcin Imre. I could mention the meals, the visit to the fishing village, the boat trip, and all the rest. However, this has already been a long article, and Stephan Kinsella has already written at length about these things. And so, I commend Turkey and the Hotel Karia Princess. And I commend Hans-Hermann Hoppe and the Property and Freedom Society. Long may their salon continue to shine from Bodrum!

Free Life Commentary,
an independent journal of comment

published on the Internet
Issue Number 13
28th February 1998

How to Get Rid of New Labour,
and Why it Will Probably not be Done:
An Open Letter to William Hague

Sean Gabb

Dear Mr Hague,

This Open Letter is being faxed to you at Conservative Central Office. It is at the same time being sent out by e-mail to about a thousand subscribers to Free Life Commentary; and it will, in the next few days, be placed on my Web Page.

Free Life Commentary,
an independent journal of comment published on the Internet
Issue Number 26
Thursday 31st December 1998

Hard Labour, Worthless Tories
by Sean Gabb

Free Life Commentary,
an independent journal of comment published on the Internet
Issue Number 28
20th February 1999

Robert Henderson v Tony Blair:
A Tale of New Britain
by Sean Gabb

Introduction

The story that I have to tell is condensed from over a thousand pages of photocopied letters, articles and transcripts, plus many hours of tape recording. At times, it seems to resemble a baroque church, as the significance of a particular line of correspondence becomes hard to find and relate to the whole. However, I will do my best to simplify the story without doing harm to its essentials.

Free Life Commentary,
an independent journal of comment published on the Internet
Issue Number 29
Friday 26th March 1999

Thoughts on the Serbian War
by Sean Gabb

As I write, the Royal Airforce is being readied for a third night of bombing raids on Serbia. The pro-Government media here in London is filled with the usual atrocity stories that attend these aggressions. Some may be true, though I do not suppose that those publishing them care very much about truth or falsehood. What I want to do here fairly briefly is to explain why this war with Serbia is to be opposed whether or not the atrocity stories are true.

Free Life Commentary,
an independent journal of comment published on the Internet

Issue Number 36
23rd September 1999

Sean Gabb, Brian Micklethwait,
and the Debate over Libertarian Strategy
by Sean Gabb

The purpose of this article is to explain the grounds of my dispute with Brian Micklethwait, the Editorial Director of the Libertarian Alliance, and to try justifying my own side in this dispute. It is a more regular and extended version of the argument reported in issue 34 of Free Life Commentary.[1]

Free Life Commentary,
an independent journal of comment published on the Internet

Issue Number 39
19th February 2000

Reflections 
on the Current State of British Politics
by Sean Gabb