Notice of Abdication
by Sean Gabb
(19th June 2017)
I have always known I would one day write a posting like this one. But, as with death, stepping down from the Libertarian Alliance was something I chose to contemplate from a distance. Here it now is. By the time you read these words, I shall no longer be Director of the Libertarian Alliance. My role as absolute master of the organisation will have been taken by Keir Martland.
Since I do not wish to write at length, my reasons for stepping down can be summarised under two headings:
First, I have not been as good a Director as the Libertarian Alliance may have needed. If I write well, and if I have courage, I am not a leader. I am reserved and even cold. I do not make friends easily. I do not like the company of strangers. These failings alone disqualify me from running a successful political organisation. Chris Tame was aware of them, but made me his successor because his cancer took him by surprise, and because no one else in his circle was what he considered a man of ability or of good character.
I have done my duty. With me in charge, the Libertarian Alliance has not become yet another corporate front. We have continued to defend freedom of speech and of association, and the general values of a free and open society. We have remained radical in areas where others chose to look the other way. Thanks to me, indeed, we have remained in being. There was, in 2011, an attempted takeover of the Libertarian Alliance. When I defeated this, the attempt became one of destruction. Using throughout the powers left me in his will, I faced down the threat Chris had warned me against on his deathbed. But if I have the qualities needed to preserve it, I have few of the qualities needed to advance an organisation.
Second, a new generation of thinkers and writers has emerged within our movement. These are young men of ability. They are ambitious and energetic. Some of them are my own former students and semi-students. In all cases, I have known them for a large portion of their lives; and they seem to lack the moral deficiencies of the men who surrounded Chris Tame in his last decade. I will speak particularly, though briefly, of Keir Martland. I met him when he was thirteen, and realised at once he was a most brilliant young man. When he was sixteen, I asked if he would like to be my successor. He said he would when the time was right. He is now pushing nineteen, and we both feel it is time for me to stand out of his way.
The only condition placed on my abdicating in his favour was that Keir should be as absolutely in charge as I had been. A state needs to be governed by constitutional rules. A small organisation must, if it is to survive, let alone flourish, be a despotism. He has agreed. He will maintain the archive of the Libertarian Alliance. He will appropriate its history. But he will change its name, and he will take it in new directions. What directions these may be are for him alone to decide.
As said, I do not plan to disappear. I will continue to write and occasionally to broadcast. I may be wheeled out at meetings and conferences. I will give such private advice as may be asked of me, or that I may think required. But I shall no longer be the organisation’s absolute master. I have abdicated.
It would be unnatural if I were to feel nothing as I typed these words. The Libertarian Alliance has been part of my life since I was Keir’s age. I may not believe I did it well, but I was its leader for eleven years, and I did keep it in being. I did so at considerable moral and financial cost. I am now stepping down. I feel strange. I feel sad. I feel diminished. I feel sure, even so, that what I am doing is right – right for the movement, right for the young man who will now direct it, right for me.
This was meant to be a short posting, and I have said enough. I offer Keir my best wishes for the future.